Profile – Stephen Griggs, Arthur Andersen

After 11 years at Arthur Andersen’s Assurance and Business Advisory office in London, Stephen Griggs has transferred to the firm’s Birmingham office.

Griggs, a partner and chartered accountant, says: ‘I’ve been in the London office for 11 years and I hope my transfer will bring new impetus to the new office.’

After studying accountancy and finance at the London School of Economics, Griggs applied to various Big Five firms. He joined Arthur Andersen in 1987 and qualified three years later. The decision to train as an accountant, he explains, was influenced by his business-orientated family. ‘My family were retailers and I always wanted to specialise in finance,’ he says.

His first position was as an audit assistant in 1987 and, in the early 1990s he was made audit manager, cutting his teeth in the retail, manufacturing and logistics industries.

‘I’ve worked with big companies like Safeway throughout the year,’ he says. ‘I build up relationships with people in the company which is one of the more rewarding parts of my job.’

This involves work outside the traditional audit remit, such as advising companies on market trends. The variety of work is one reason why Griggs has not been tempted to branch off into business consultancy. ‘There are a number of different challenges in the retail industry such as home shopping and the internet. You need to have a view about how quickly the channels will develop,’ he says.

Traditional auditing itself seems on the brink of change with the government’s company law review, which questions whether financial reporting should include ‘softer’ issues such as a company’s environmental impact or the valuation of intangible assets.

Griggs remains guarded on the prospect of a reporting overhaul which could dramatically increase their responsibilities. ‘The jury is still out on what value of assurance a company’s auditors can give,’ he says.

‘It’s a difficult issue.’

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