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Much of what she announced had been widely touted in the press or downright leaked. Indeed the level of detail in some newspapers went beyond the simple educated guess.
One of upshot though is that the Financial Reporting Council has been catapulted from dusty obscurity into the national consciousness as the organisation that will save shareholders from greedy directors and the spectre of Enron style melt downs. Not only that but the body that would have overseen the regulation of accountants in practice – like those at Andersen – has now also become part of the FRC’s remit.
In the accountancy world, whether part of business or practice, the FRC is now the super watchdog ensuring that your accounting misdemeanours definitely do not pay.
That makes it very powerful and as with all such vehicles there are people of ambition who will aspire to run them.
Sir Bryan Nicholson, chairman of the Cookson Group plc, and chairman of the FRC, is now overlooking a much expanded empire. His standing within the corporate world has grown substantially and the demands of the job can only increase.
The question then is whether he will stay or whether a new chairman to lead the watchdog into a new era will be sought?
There are surely a few who are close to Sir Bryan who are able to take on the job. Peter Wyman, already deputy chairman of the FRC, is said to have impressed ministers during the whole year-long review of accountancy. He has been the voice of moderation who offered counsel against overreaction – something clearly taken on board given today’s report.
He ends his stint as president of the ICAEW in June, but could he chair the FRC and still remain a partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers?
Another possible is Sir John Bourn, chairman of the Review Board – part of the soon to be defunct Accountancy Foundation. Much more experienced than many possible candidates Sir John, as head of the National Audit Office, has much experience of heading a proactive financial investigatory body. He is not shy of making controversial statements, though he has avoided publicity for himself.
Perhaps another option would be to go for Lord Gordon Borrie, chairman of the Accountancy Foundation Board. Respected though he is, it may be that his chairmanship of the Advertising Standards Authority could prevent him from giving enough time to the new body.
Creation or expansion of an organisation always prompts a review of personnel which can result in a reshuffle. Only time will tell whether current incumbents will be a meaningful part of the new watchdog once it has finally been pulled together.
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