BusinessPeople In BusinessThe Top 50 financial power list 2007

The Top 50 financial power list 2007

There are challenging times ahead for the accountancy industry’s most influential figures and organisations. The rush to regulation may have subsided but new more pressing issues have arisen in their place. Here, we highlight the leaders and organisations that will most influence the industry and business in 2007

top 50 power list

1: Ed Balls
Economic secretary to the Treasury

Ed Balls is often tipped as a future chancellor. The good news is that he
appears to understand how the profession works. Balls has been the driving force
behind moves to prevent the London Stock Exchange from being hampered by the
Sarbanes-Oxley Act in 2006 and has moved towards establishing better financial
controls within the European Union. He may not be hugely significant now, but
2007 is certain to herald greater things for this youthful political star.

2: Sir Christopher Hogg
Chairman, Financial Reporting Council

Former chairman of GlaxosmithKline and Allied Domecq Sir Christopher Hogg has
been landed with the hottest potato in the profession: deciding what to do on
competition and choice in the audit profession. Sir Christopher has been
chairman of the FRC for a year now. If anyone is going to feel the pressure from
lobbyists over the coming months, it will be him.

3: John Griffith-Jones
Senior partner, KPMG

KPMG’s senior partner, John Griffith-Jones, has been the surprise turn of 2006.
Early indications suggested he was an old-school leader, but Griffith-Jones has
been quick out of the blocks. More than any other Big Four chief, Griffith-Jones
has shown himself willing to engage publicly with the issues concerning the
profession. He has defended the Big Four against Oxera attacks, and seems happy
to talk about anything that critics have to throw at him.

4: Baroness Noakes
Shadow treasury minister
Baroness Noakes, formerly Sheila Masters, and formerly of KPMG, is the
power behind the Tory throne. Noakes has forced the Professional Oversight Board
to be subject to the Freedom of Information Act in 2006. More than that, as a
qualified member of the profession, she understands tax better than any other
member of the Tory Treasury team. She drives the most important Tory tax
policies, and could well be a future HMRC minister in a Tory administration.

5: Peter Wyman
Head of professional affairs, PwC
In latter years as head of professional affairs, one might be forgiven
for thinking that the partner took a back seat in affairs of state. Not for
Peter Wyman, however, who still works unstintingly behind the scenes, lobbying
politicians of all parties, at all levels, in UK government, Europe and the US.
Passionate, articulate and eloquent, Wyman is a match for anyone in any debate
on the profession.

6: Simon Whitehead
Tax lawyer, Dorsey & Whitney

As head of the trial group at Dorsey & Whitney, Whitehead is one of the most
important people in UK corporate tax. The challenges to the UK tax system, of
which Whitehead is shepherding five (encompassing hundreds of companies), are
wreaking havoc at the Treasury and prompting hundreds of millions of pounds of
payouts to corporates. The cases are leading to a fight back from the Treasury,
with the end of interest relief – among other things – heralding a broad revamp
of UK corporate tax.

7: Dave Hartnett
Director general, HMRC

Anyone who knows what’s going on in tax knows Dave Hartnett. The undeclared head
of tax legislation in the UK, Hartnett continues to rule the roost over
everything from carousel fraud to minor avoidance infringements. Warmly spoken
of by Whitehall figures, Hartnett’s influence is as pervasive at the department
as it has ever been. Expect him to continue to make headlines in 2007,
infuriating tax advisers. He’s keeping close tabs on the tax affairs of both
corporates and individuals, and will be at the centre of all major tax rows in

8: Jon Symonds
CFO, AstraZeneca

Jon Symonds stood down as head of the Hundred Group of Finance Directors just
over a year ago, but his importance seems to transcend even the group he headed
up. He sparked off a debate about growing regulatory creep from the US in 2006
with his views on comment letters. As CFO at AstraZeneca, he is an important
multinational finance director in any case. But it is his considered and
intelligent response to the issues the profession faces that always command

9: Philip Broadley
Group FD, Prudential

The Prudential group FD and chairman of the Hundred Group of Finance Directors,
Broadley is, almost, the most influential FD in the country. He is doubtful
about the value of IFRS and hinted at his group’s misgivings about the way the
UK tax system works for corporates. Expect him to continue pushing his point,
but don’t expect him to make a song and dance about it. He likes to do his arm
twisting behind closed doors.

10: Helen Weir
FD, Lloyds TSB

Helen Weir is a rarity – she is the only female finance director currently in
the FTSE 100. A former management consultant, she is the lone figurehead for
women in the blue-chip index, with the loss of Alison Reed and Margaret Ewing.
She is, of course, far more important besides that. Weir is admirably focused on
the job at hand and, at only 44, can only be a significant figure in the
profession for many years to come.

11: Suzzane Wood
Head of CFO practice, Heidrick & Struggles
Headhunters have become a vital tool in any FD’s bag in today’s
competitive environment. Any self-respecting, high-flying FD will be happy to
have Suzzane Wood, who leads the CFO practice, focusing on placing finance
executives at board level in their network of contacts. Renowned for matching
some of the country’s leading FDs with some of the top public companies, Wood
will continue to play a key role in the finances of UK plc.

12: Chris Lucas,
FD elect, Barclays

Chris Lucas is something of an unknown quantity. The heir-apparent to the
Barclays’ FD throne is also its former top auditor. Despite the kudos attached
to the role, his progress will be under the microscope because of his lengthy
employment at PwC. How will he respond to the challenges the banks face, not
least their huge contribution to the UK exchequer?

13: Gordon Brown
Chancellor, Treasury

It’s no secret that the chancellor has his heart set on a move to No. 10, but
the Scotsman will clearly remain a major influence on the accounting world, at
least until the next general election. Brown’s stance on tax avoidance has
changed the face of the profession, and tax advisers can only speculate about
what life will be like without him, or without his day-to-day influence at

14: Paul Gray
Acting chairman, HMRC
A challenging year lies ahead for the man who stepped into the breach
when Sir David Varney resigned as chairman of HM Revenue and Customs last year.
HMRC is promising businesses more certainty in their tax affairs and simplifying
compliance for all taxpayers this year, as well as a pledge to stamp out
avoidance by 2008. Expectations are high and Gray will have to deliver with an
ever-shrinking budget, rapidly reducing staff numbers and possibly a new
chancellor to answer to.

15: Michael Izza
Chief executive, ICAEW

As head of the ICAEW, Michael Izza ought to be important. But will he be?
Regarded as a man who keeps his head down and gets on with the job in hand,
observers will watch with interest to see how Izza handles the ICAEW. Can he
push the merger issue again? Will Izza modify ICAEW strategy, and how will he
present himself to a sceptical membership and to council?

16: European Court of Justice
Tax judgments

The ECJ has already had a significant impact on the tax policies with its
rulings on controlled foreign companies and the M&S GLO. Its influence is
expected to become ever more pervasive in 2007 as it rules on an unprecedented
number of tax cases. The character of the court is changing, however, and after
tending to favour the taxpayer for a number of years it is beginning to shift
towards the member state side of the debate.

17: Mark Freebairn
Head of the CFO practice, Odgers Ray & Berndtson
A number of top finance directors will be looking for work in 2007,
including Alison Reed and Margaret Ewing. One person who is likely to have a
significant bearing on where many end up will be Mark Freebairn. The headhunter
from Odgers Ray and Berndtson is known for his relentless networking and strong
contact base.

18: Chris Dickson
Executive counsel, Joint Disciplinary Scheme

Dickson’s contract runs as accounting watchdog until the end of 2007, so surely
he’ll bow out quietly and take up some consulting, or perhaps a
non-executive role, soon, right? No chance. His workload, which includes the not
inconsiderable issue of complaints laid against Equitable Life auditors Ernst
& Young, means that JDS will continue to hit headlines in 2007.

19: Andrew Higginson
Group finance director, Tesco

The last 12 months have been momentous for Higginson: he helped the company make
its first tentative steps towards a serious foray into the US, and can take
pride in the fact that he won Accountancy Age’s Outstanding Contribution to
Industry award. The US will figure even greater on the modest man’s time this
year, and he will have to keep a close eye on the result of, and implications
of, the Competition Commission’s investigation into the habits of the biggest
players in the grocery market.

20: Jeremy Newman
Managing partner, BDO Stoy Hayward
Newman is a shrewd businessman and astute politician. He has dominated
the Oxera debate on choice and quality in the UK audit market, and has propelled
his firm into a position where it is now considered a serious challenger to the
Big Four. Expect Newman to continue controlling the audit choice debate and
pushing BDO’s credentials as a legitimate alternative to the giant firms.

21: John Connolly
Chief executive, Deloitte

One Deloitte partner said that if you locked the heads of the Big Four in a room
and armed them with baseball bats, Connolly would be the one who came out alive.
The Deloitte boss clearly means business in 2007, having boldly predicted that
his firm would generate revenues of £2bn by 2008 and backed this up with the
high-profile appointments of Kari Hale, Sir Digby Jones and Dame Sue Street.

22: Alan Blewitt
Chief executive, ACCA

Welcomed by most for his outspoken attitude, Blewitt is in charge of an
institute that has been ahead of the pack by focusing on its international
dimension and public policy. However others, namely the ICAEW, are now doing the
same. How can Blewitt keep ACCA ahead of the pack? Although rarely criticised,
it was recently knocked for losing ground over a deal that allows straight
access to Hong Kong-qualifieds for the ICAEW.

23: Douglas Flint
Group finance director, HSBC

Douglas Flint CBE has been group finance director of what is now Britain’s
largest bank for the past ten years. The company has been at the centre of rows
about corporate tax this year, indicating it could move abroad if the tax
environment in the UK became hostile enough. Flint will help make the final
decision on any such moves, but won’t win any friends in government, for whom he
has produced reports, if the company does shift its headquarters.

24: Paul Boyle
Chief executive, Financial Reporting Council

FRC chief executive is the man who started the debate on audit competition and
whether we have enough big firms by commissioning the now notorious Oxera
report. The Big Four disagreed bitterly with many of its findings and have
become increasingly concerned that the FRC could intervene in the market to find
a solution. They will be watching Boyle’s every move and will be ready to pounce
if he slips up.

25: Nick Land
Non-executive director, Royal Dutch Shell

Land is arguably one of the most well-connected people in the power list. Having
stepped down from Ernst & Young this summer after 11 years as chairman Land,
a clubbable figure, is set to face new challenges. He is a non-executive
director of Royal Dutch Shell, the BBA Group, the Ashmore Group and Vodafone. He
also sits on the advisory board of the Cambridge Judge Business School, is a
member of the National Gallery’s Finance and Audit Committees, and is chairman
of the practices advisory board of the ICAEW.

26: Christopher Cox
Chairman, Securities and Exchange Commission

Sworn in over a year ago as chairman of the US’ SEC, Cox perhaps could not have
imagined the great wave of criticism his organisation would attract as it worked
to implement the Sarbanes-Oxley Act. Opinion is turning, however, and even
senior US politicians believe the legislation went too far. Expect Cox to be
instrumental in either toning down the enforcement or reforming the rules. This
will not be an easy year, but he could change things significantly for FDs in
the US and the UK.

27: Kieran Poynter
Chairman, PwC

As chairman of the UK’s largest firm, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Kieran Poynter
will always be a significant figure in the profession. This year, his firm
reported profits breaking through the £2bn barrier, growing by 12%. Although
much of the growth must be attributed to external influences, the careful
steering of the firm and gentle management of Poynter shouldn’t be
underestimated. The firm is unlikely to be knocked off its top spot by its close
rival, Deloitte, and is only set to be overhauled as the largest European firm
by KPMG’s merger of German and UK operations.

28: Mary Keegan
MD of government accountancy, Treasury
Government accounts continue to be heavily scrutinised as Whitehall
watchdogs criticise the management of public finances. Despite sober attempts to
have top-class, quality accounts, many departments’ accounts remain qualified
and woefully lacking in quality. In her role as managing director of government
financial management at the Treasury, Mary Keegan will have to face much of the
flak.This can’t all be laid at the Treasury’s door, of course. Much of the mess
stems from years of mismanagement. Nevertheless, now in her third year, Keegan
will be expected to start delivering more. She is made of stern stuff, though.

29: Katherine Lee
Chief financial officer, YouGov

Lee, the CFO of online polling company YouGov, has only been in the job since
the summer of 2005. And even though it is her first finance director role, she
has already attracted the attention of headhunters and top FTSE 350 businesses.
Lee has been earmarked as a FTSE 100 FD of the future and identified as one of
the new generation of female FDs to follow on from Margaret Ewing, Helen Weir
and Alison Reed.

30: Sir David Varney
Former chairman, HMRC
2006 took its toll on the relationship between HM Revenue &
Customs and UK plc. HSBC hinted it might leave the UK for tax reasons and the
CBI was vocal in its criticism of the tax system. Enter former HMRC chairman Sir
David Varney to heal the wounds with his Varney review, which promised to
provide business with more certainty in its tax planning and a far swifter
service. Sir David was 49th in last year’s poll, reflecting some unpopularity at
HMRC. As an adviser to the Chancellor he is now, ironically, more important.

31: Markets Participants
Group investors
The investors on the Market Participants’ Group have raised a few
eyebrows. Robert Talbut of Royal London Asset Management, Huw Jones of M&G,
Michael Power of JP Morgan Cazenove, and Derek Scott, a Stagecoach pension
scheme trustee, are all charged with putting the investors’ view on the audit
competition debate. All are largely unknown quantities and all enter a debate in
which investors punch decidedly under their weight. Their first objective must
be to show that they, who buy audits, actually care about them.

32: McCreevy, Kallas, László Kovács
European Commission

The European Commission is enough to make anyone yawn. But Charlie McCreevy,
Siim Kallas and László Kovács are important. McCreevy is mulling Europe-wide
changes to auditor liability and the competition debate, while Kovacs is
devising a common, consolidated corporate tax base. Sounds dull? Maybe. But they
will affect all of the profession in redrawing the relationship between business
and practice, and the way in which business is taxed. Kallas is tackling EU
fraud. Wish him luck.

33: Ken Lever
FD, Tomkins
Ken Lever is the outspoken head of the reporting committee of the
Hundred Group of Finance Directors. He’s also the finance director of Tomkins,
and has gone on the record to say that he thinks the Financial Reporting Council
ought to be more transparent – a hot potato given the body’s desire to keep
itself to itself. Lever will have a key role to play in 2007 as IFRS beds down
and senior figures try to fend off ever more regulation of UK business

34: Rolf Nonnenmacher
Head of KPMG, Deutschland

Professor Rolf Nonnenmacher will jointly head up KPMG Europe from October of
2007. As the current head of KPMG Deutschland, Nonnenmacher will manage what
will be the largest firm in Europe alongside John Griffith-Jones. What will he
be like? UK accountants are likely to have no idea. How will he respond to the
European challenges the firm is facing?

35: Ian Dyson
FD, Marks & Spencer

Marks & Spencer’s FD doesn’t make the headlines in the company’s recovery
story, but you can bet that behind Stuart Rose’s turnaround Dyson will have
played an integral role. Appointed in June 2005 Dyson has helped guide an ailing
M&S through an expensive advertising and marketing campaign, which helped to
bring the foundering brand back from the doldrums. Dyson, 44, formerly FD of The
Rank Group, oversaw a 34.3% rise in UK retail operating profits (before
exceptional items and asset disposals) to £790.1m in 2006.

36: Gunnar Niels
Author, Oxera
Niels is the academic author of the Oxera report on audit competition.
In penning his research, he perhaps did not expect it to attract quite the level
of opprobrium it has so far. More than anything else written on accountancy in
the past year, his report placed a very angry cat among the pigeons. That report
is unlikely to go away and will be the dominant subject of conversation for Big
Four accountants for months to come.

37: Mike Rake
Global chairman, KPMG
Mike Rake is certainly well known in the profession, but having left
the UK firm behind, he may have a few surprises up his sleeve as the global
chairman of KPMG. The heads of the six major global networks this year sprung
everyone with their call for real-time reporting, and anyone who knows Rake
knows he is full of ideas and not afraid to express them. With more time on his
hands these days (but with a still worthwhile £800,000 salary), how will he
occupy himself? The profession is braced.

38: Anton Colella
Chief executive, ICAS
Colella has more to lose than new ICAEW chief Michael Izza. He replaces
a chief executive who received little if any criticism, who moved on to what
definitively is a bigger job at the Law Society. He also battles an ageing
membership. Even though student numbers have been good for Colella’s crew, the
concern for the institute is consolidation, more around it than affecting it
directly. Sparks could fly between the new bosses this year.

39: Richard Douglas
Finance director, NHS

The NHS has to balance its books this year – the books that have been several
hundreds of millions of pounds in the red. According to NHS chief executive
David Nicholson, it is critical for the NHS to make a financial balance this
year, plus a £250m surplus the year after, in order to achieve its strategic
objective of serving the public. Douglas, of course, is in charge of this. No
excuses will be accepted by Treasury select committees, or the public.

40: Mark Otty
Chairman, Ernst & Young
The towering South African took over from Nick Land in the summer, but
has proved extremely hard to pin down, which may have something to do with him
being in peak physical fitness, courtesy of his long-distance running. He came
out of the shadows recently to discuss the firm breaking through the £1bn
ceiling on its annual revenues and a 40% growth in profits. Otty hinted that the
firm would reveal more about its long-term strategy in the near future.

41: Richard Murphy
Tax Justice Network
A vociferous campaigner against tax avoidance and sworn enemy of the
aggressive tax planning has meant that Richard Murphy is not a popular figure
with large accounting firms. Murphy, however, is more than a loony renegade. He
is a regular visitor to HMRC and an influential media figure. The tax planning
profession will once again be monitoring his activities with trepidation as he
continues his crusade to make sure businesses and individuals are not short
changing the Treasury.

42: Margaret Ewing & Alison Reed
Top female FDs

Ewing and Reed are two of the most high-profile, and ultimately successful,
finance directors in recent times. But with a lack of female representation at
the top of the
finance profession, their next forays in the business world are important.

Non-exec roles, posts at the ‘next big thing’ or consulting titles must be
around the corner. The profession will be watching closely.

43: Andy Halford
FD, Vodafone
Vodafone’s FD controls the purse strings at what has been one of the
UK’s most volatile companies in accounting terms. Its most recent interim report
detailed a downward revision of assets which led to Vodafone posting a £3.3bn
‘loss’, after a £4.8bn pretax profit had been decimated by an £8.1bn impairment
charge for its overseas companies. The write-downs and the tax issues the
company is contending with make it one of the most interesting businesses to
follow in 2007. Halford’s reign has seen the company take a more realistic
attitude to its accounting. Will he spring any more surprises this year?

44: Patrick Way
Tax Barrister
Patrick Way is the tax barrister to the stars. Way took on Andre
Agassi’s case against the taxman over sponsorship revenues, and whether the UK
had a claim on them, as well as Richard & Judy’s case on the deductibility
of agents’ expenses against entertainers’ income. Although he lost the former
after an epic battle, he won the daytime TV stars’ battle in glorious fashion,
winning over the Special Commissioners with Richard Madeley’s Ali G impression.
2007 holds bright things.

45: George Osborne
Shadow chancellor, Tory party
Shadow chancellor George Osborne is one of several tipped as a future
UK finance chief. Under Tory leader and Notting Hill chum David Cameron, Osborne
has insisted his party will put economic stability ahead of tax cuts. It’s
important for Osborne to make an impression in 2007, but he’ll have to shrug off
his geeky classroom image. That said, he could prove to be a favourite of
business if he is able to stand up his pledge to develop a simpler tax system
and lower corporation tax.

46: John Cullinane
President, CIoT

Tax advisers are expected to moan about how badly treated they are by
government. Cullinane, as president of CIoT, pushes an influential message
through the corridors of power. While others bleat, his views will be taken on
board more than most, particularly by the taxman. As anti-avoidance measures
continue to grip professional advice, his take on the issue continues to hold
weight in 2007.

47: Nick Sabin
Chief executive, IPA

Sabin is quietly spoken, but deadly serious about improving the quality of
advice provided to tens of thousands of severely debt-ridden individuals. The
Insolvency Practitioners Association pushed the government to allow it to keep
closer tabs on Individual Voluntary Arrangement providers, but the message
didn’t get through. Some would argue that providing the backbone of
self-regulation for the debt industry through new regulator Debt Resolution
Forum is a poisoned chalice, and 2007 will show whether they made the right

48: David Herbinet
Head of public interest markets, Mazars
Herbinet has been a ubiquitous figure in the Oxera debate on choice and
quality in the audit market, calling for radical steps to improve choice, such
as compulsory joint audits and regulatory intervention. Herbinet may only come
from a small firm, but he has made a great deal of noise and won the support for
some of his ideas from none other than Philip Broadley, the head of the Hundred
Group. Though disliked by the Big Four Herbinet will continue to be a presence
in the audit choice debate.

49: Peter Montagnon
Head of investment affairs, Association of British Insurers

Peter Montagnon, ABI head of investment affairs, caused a splash in 2006 when
the investment body made some extraordinary suggestions as to how to limit the
dominance of the Big Four on the UK audit market by limiting the number of FTSE
companies a firm could audit. The Big Four pointed out that this would damage
the companies unable to get the auditor they wanted – a fair point. Montagnon is
described by those who know him as an intellectual figure, so comments that the
suggestions were silly may have bruised.

50: Cameron Scott
Executive counsel, Accountancy Investigation & Discipline Board

Cameron Scott, the AIDB’s executive counsel, has a lot to prove. He takes over
the role from Chris Dickson of the Joint Disciplinary Scheme, whose record is
enviable. But where Dickson’s punches rarely miss, Scott has yet to prove his
mettle. His first investigation, of Mayflower accountants, has already seen
various complaints thrown out. January will see the remaining charges decided

Related Articles

Women in Finance ranking 2018

People Business Women in Finance ranking 2018

2m Alia Shoaib, Reporter
Shortlist announced for British Accountancy Awards 2017

Accounting Firms Shortlist announced for British Accountancy Awards 2017

9m Emma Smith, Managing Editor
Pimlico Plumbers to take employment case appeal to Supreme Court

Legal Pimlico Plumbers to take employment case appeal to Supreme Court

9m Alia Shoaib, Reporter
HMRC appoints new director generals

HMRC HMRC appoints new director generals

10m Alia Shoaib, Reporter
Submit your entry for the British Accountancy Awards!

People Business Submit your entry for the British Accountancy Awards!

11m Emma Smith, Managing Editor
BDO appoints two non-executive directors as advisers to leadership team

Accounting Firms BDO appoints two non-executive directors as advisers to leadership team

11m Emma Smith, Managing Editor
Ex-HMRC chief to join ICAS council

HMRC Ex-HMRC chief to join ICAS council

1y Emma Smith, Managing Editor
Tyrie on Finance Bill 2017: ‘Making Tax Policy Better’

Consulting Tyrie on Finance Bill 2017: ‘Making Tax Policy Better’

1y Stephanie Wix, Writer