BusinessCompany NewsTime to turnaround

Time to turnaround

This week, Accountancy Age speaks to Transport for London's FD Jay Walder.

He may be grandly titled – managing director of finance and planning no less – but he is not an accountant. A couple of weeks ago we spoke to another FD in a colourful role – Jordan Grand Prix’s Richard O’Driscoll.

He is no accountant either.

So what does this signal? A change of our editorial direction, where we favour the unqualified over the qualified? Certainly not. We will continue to profile accountants in high-profile positions – as well as those holding the sorts of high-profile positions that you might reasonably expect an accountant to occupy.

What it does signal, however, is that accountants are facing more and tougher competition for the best jobs from outside their own ranks. Nothing new there you might say, but it’s a trend that is only likely to accelerate.

That’s the bad news. The better news comes in two appointments over the last week that signal accountants are breaking out of the back rooms. The more typical of these two appointments came on Friday as Neil Robson converted his loan spell into a full-scale transfer from Ernst & Young to Leeds United as its new finance director. Then on Tuesday, former PwC partner Mark Palios got his feet under the chief executive’s desk at the Football Association’s HQ in Soho Square.

What both Robson and Palios share is a background in insolvency and business recovery. And again, expect this sort of appointment to become more prevalent.

As businesses struggle with the bad times, it is natural that they turn to turnaround specialists.

So what’s the moral? If you are an accountant with turnaround skills, the world is your oyster at the moment. If not, keep looking over your shoulder…

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