On the money with Gavin Hinks

Indeed a quick survey of the fate of FDs is often illustrative of the broader
nature of the past year in business.

Take Margaret Ewing, who resigned from BAA after seeing the company through
its takeover by Ferrovial. She was lauded for her work and finally left with a
very big reputation, an Accountancy Age award and probably able to sign her own
cheques for her next post.

Compare that with Alison Reed who saw Standard Life through its flotation and
yet for some reason, that remains largely unspecified by anyone at all, she
ended up pilloried in the press. Professionals in the know insist she did a
cracking job and there seems little reason for doubting their view. Expect both
Reed and Ewing to reappear in big jobs next year.

FDs saw their fair share of trouble this year too. Tim Whiston, CEO of iSoft
and former FD, resigned after the debacle over accounting at the business
intensified. Finance chief John Walen also resigned after the problems emerged.
Their departures were a reminder that, perhaps more than at any other time, the
accountants at the heart of any company can find themselves on the wrong end of
finger pointing when things don’t go to plan.

Barclays’ FD Naguib Kheraj was an entirely different case. He seemed to lose
the will to do his job. He resigned with perhaps some of the most honest words
from an executive all year and saying he wouldn’t be an FD again any time soon.
The gist of his reasoning was that he could no longer bear all the bureaucratic
compliance work.

That’s telling because the criticism against the raft of rules that FDs face
has been growing. Kheraj could be the first of many if things don’t improve.

Gavin Hinks is editor of Accountancy Age

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