On the money with Alex Hawkes

Without getting involved in old clichés about boring accountants, it’s easy
to reel off a list of FDs who never show their faces. Byron Grote of BP is one
who thinks that no publicity is good publicity.

Ashley Almanza at BG Group also seems reluctant to do interviews, as does
Andy Halford at Vodafone.

When I asked The Royal Bank of Scotland if I could interview its finance
director, a certain Guy Whittaker, I was told that I didn’t have a hope in hell
(who knows, perhaps it was just me they didn’t like).

I don’t mention this to get into any silly points about how, in the modern
world, you have to engage with all stakeholders, the mantra of PR people
everywhere. I happen to think that’s all hokum – you pick the audiences you want
to communicate with, and you pay attention to them.

But I do think an FD who isn’t prepared to do something off the beaten track,
field and answer questions on pretty much any subject is someone who is likely
to miss out on commercial opportunities as much as PR opportunities.

It also says something about the person. Not being outgoing or articulate is,
in the modern world, regarded as a cardinal sin. We all need to express

I suffer, of course, from a professional bias. Journalists think that
everyone should tell them everything, and if they don’t, they must be hiding

Even so, however much has changed, accountancy still seems like the shy

With role models like Grote at the top of our biggest companies, I don’t see
that changing any time soon.

Alex Hawkes is news editor of Accountancy Age

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