In truth, we should hope it didn’t. Even the keenest profession-watcher would
rank the stability of global markets, the emerging food crisis and soaring oil
prices as more pressing.
Yet Powell’s ascendancy to the summit of what is the second biggest practice
within the world’s largest professional services firm is an important bellwether
for two reasons.
One, he’s a business recovery expert, having worked on such celebrated, if
that’s the right word, failures as cable operator ntl, Marconi and MG Rover. At
this fragile point of the economic cycle, what does the fact that his fellow
partners appointed as their leader an insolvency specialist (ahead of a pair of
auditors and a taxman)?
Second, Powell’s appointment highlights the dangers of reading too much into
things. In case that sounds undermining, I’m not dismissing the art of
interpretation altogether. I’m simply saying that with everyone searching for
‘The Sign’ that we have tripped from slowdown into full-blown recession –
whether it’s house prices, retailer results or even Google’s traffic – we need
to be sensible.
Yep. It’s got so bizarre that Google activity is now being monitored because
of a presumption – wholly misplaced in my view – that people will search the web
less in a slowdown. So, let’s pay close attention to indicators, but let’s be a
bit less hysterical about it.
That said, we’re beginning the painful process of collecting numbers for this
year’s Accountancy Age Top 50. And if anything is going to provide an indication
of where we are heading…
Damian Wild is editor-in-chief of Accountancy Age