A few days earlier he had appeared on Newsnight and was on the receiving end of a grilling that, at times, made for decidedly uncomfortable viewing.
But despite his insistence that the failures surrounding the firm’s audit of Enron were a US issue not a UK one, Ormerod was unable to stem the tide. And within a few months, the firm had disappeared.
Given how recent those experiences are, it may initially appear strange that hundreds of readers of Accountancy Age should vote John Ormerod as their Personality of the Year for 2002.
But among accountants there is widespread sympathy for a man who secured a future for Andersen staff and partners in the UK as the firm disintegrated around the world.
Domestically it was Ormerod who skillfully negotiated the deal that saw Deloitte & Touche acquire Andersen’s UK business, some say by playing the firm off against its rival KPMG. Critics say he was forced to accept a deal rather than run the risk of seeing both potential partners walk away.
But whatever the reality, it appeared that Ormerod, now Deloitte’s senior London partner, played a canny game.
There were no shortage of strong candidates for readers to vote for this year. To win one of the most prestigious of the Accountancy Age Awards for Excellence, Ormerod had to see off stiff competition from the likes of John Connolly (Deloitte & Touche’s senior partner is now, of course, Ormerod’s boss) and Mike Rake (senior partner of KPMG and the man who nearly acquired Andersen’s UK business).
He also beat senator Paul Sarbanes (whose controversial corporate governance law was ushered in after the events that led to Andersen’s collapse) and Peter Wyman – the PwC partner and ICAEW president who was the first to stick his head above the parapet and defend UK accountants and the only one to keep it there. Ormerod will be glad that 2002 is nearly over. But the pedigree of the competition that he had to beat to win the Accountancy Age Award for Personality of the Year shows it is very much deserved.
Other shortlisted candidates:
- John Connolly, Deloitte & Touche
- Mike Rake, KPMG
- Senator Paul Sarbanes
- Peter Wyman, ICAEW