PracticeConsultingThe millionaires’ club

The millionaires' club

Money may make an accountant's world go round, but for the honest majority it'sa just case of working with the numbers rather than stacking up an indecentlybulging bank balance.

Comfortable five-figure incomes keep the vast majority of the profession happyeach month, but a few have found that the apple of the profession’s eye doesfall into their arms.

Chartered accountant David Ross, the co-founder of Carphone Warehouse, is set tofetch up to 700 million pounds next month when his company floats on the London Stock Exchange, with boss Charles Dunstone looking at a value of 1 billion pounds.

It’s rag to riches story – of the public school variety – for the 34-year-oldformer Arthur Andersen trainee and his Uppingham school days’ best chum Dunstone.

The schoolmates have built the UK’s largest independent mobile phone retailerfrom 6,000 pounds borrowed to set-up business from a small office off Oxford Street in central London.

Now, the duo are looking at a level of personal wealth that could service thedebt of a small African republic.

Advertising success
Stock options last week also elevated Saatchi & Saatchi finance director Bill Cochrane to the realm of the super rich, when he took 5.6 million pounds worth of shares with a 1.2 billion pounds buy out of the UK advertising company by Publicis of France. Corporate affairs director and chartered accountant Wendy Smyth also secured a 6 million pounds cut in the multimillion pound merger windfall, that has created the world’s number five ad agency.

The accountant who has benefited most from share options in recent years is David Bromilow, who presently runs a medical publishing house MediMedia, but made the mainstay of his wealth with sports goods group Adidas.

The Thailand-based multimillionaire this year overtook controversial BrianSouter as the UK’s richest accountant listed in the Sunday Times’s annual RichList, which valued him at around 800 million pounds.

Bromilow had a stake of more than 45% in Adidas when the company floated on the Frankfurt stock exchange in 1995, which earned him an initial 400 million pounds before he sold further stocks in 1997 and shared 325 million pounds with two other investors.

On the buses
Scots ICA-trained Souter, the chairman of Stagecoach, is still valued at 565 million pounds and despite reporting this month annual profit growth of 11% to 244 million pounds, shares have dropped sharply as the group faced difficulty with its expansion into the US market with the 773 million pounds purchase of Coach USA.

Souter and his sister Ann Gloag’s story of rise to riches has become legendary – from the early days back in 1980 when they set up as a local bus company to floatation in 1993 and almost a decade of acquisitions to turn the group into a global transport player.

Investor Martyn Arbib trained as a chartered accountant but escaped the cityback in the early 1970s to make his fortune and set up the Perpetual investmentcompany based in Henley.

Now valued at 485 million pounds, Arbib experienced profit falls in the late 1990s but wealth has bought him the diverting pleasure of racing and the largest prize money yet won by a UK trained horse at 1.2 million pounds.

Others have made their millions by jumping out of practice into businessservices. Graham Williams who joined Guildford-based recruitment agency Hays in 1984 where he is now worth 115 million pounds.

Even public sector accountants have made their way into the money, notably CIPFAemployee and ex-Sussex council treasury trainee Roy Aldridge who spotted his golden opportunity when councils put services out to tender and he set up a computer group to do the work.

A management buy out back in 1987 paved the way for Capita to grow into a quotedcomputer consultancy worth more than 2 billion pounds, with Aldridge sitting on 70 million pounds and 10 million pounds in further assets.

Sunken treasure
Wealth and fortune can also be found in heavy industry traditionally linked todecline. As chief executive of ship repair group Cammell Laird, former Grant Thornton man, John Stafford, has overseen a turnaround from terminal declineto a network of busy conversion and repair yards on the Mersey, the North Eastand Gibralter.

Floated in 1997, the buoyant marine services group is now hoping to returnshipbuilding to the Mersey and the Tyne, while Stafford can has seen his stakesoar to 82.6 million pounds with further assets taking his value to 87 million pounds.

Others who have made it in industry include CIMA-trained Robert Edmiston, formerfinance director of the Jensen sports car business, valued at 300 million pounds.

And if all else fails, a good corporate type can stay in practice and by hook orby crook rise to the top of the pile like UK senior partner Mike Rake at KPMGand bank on an annual pay package of 1 million pounds.

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