In the end we went for John Tiner as successor to International Accounting Standards Board chairman Sir David Tweedie (who headed the inaugural list in 2001) and Joe Berardino, the former Andersen chief executive whose admission of errors in the audit of Enron last year proved to be a defining moment in the history of accountancy.
But it’s Tiner who, we believe, will have the most influence on the accountancy profession over the next 12 months.
As managing director of the Financial Services Authority, Tiner is already a titan in the City. But his influence will only grow. With FSA chief Sir Howard Davies due to leave early – he is off to greener pastures at the London School of Economics in September – Tiner is very much in the frame to step up to the top job.
The FSA’s role in overseeing much of the work carried out by accountants is growing all the time. It already oversees all investment business carried out by accountants and, with the ministerial review of regulation of accountants due to report anytime now, that influence could grow still further.
Ministers are said to see the current regulatory framework of accountancy as unnecessarily complicated. And while that does not automatically mean the FSA will become involved, it is a regulator set up by this government and one that is broadly seen to have been a success.
The departure of Sir Howard also offers an opportunity to deal with one of the lingering criticisms of the authority: that it has failed to split the role of chairman and chief executive, even though listed companies with the best corporate governance generally adopt that very measure.
Even in the unlikely event that Tiner is overlooked (possibly in favour of fellow FSA directors Ken Rushton, Carol Sargeant or Michael Foot), he will still be a face to watch next year. The former Andersen partner (and that, it should be said, is a title not seen to be working in his favour) could emerge as the power behind the throne if the job goes to an outsider.
Andrew Crockett, the outgoing head of the Bank for International Settlements, and Gus O’Donnell, Treasury Permanent Secretary, are the leading external candidates. If one of them was to be appointed, they would rely on the counsel of Tiner.