On the money with David Jetuah

david jetuah, accountancy age

Judging by the media hordes falling over themselves to flag it up, you
probably already know that former Prudential FD Thiam is the FTSE 100’s first
black CEO.

But here’s a controversial view: who cares? The City, rather like love and
justice, is blind. Shareholders, analysts and investors only care about one
thing ­ success.

For those trying to sidestep the quicksand of the current economy, the only
issue of black and white exists on the bottom line. The media clamour about
Thiam’s heritage pales into insignificance when you take this into account.

You can be sure the Pru’s board did not appoint Thiam in some fit of PC pique
­ there is just too much at stake in these troubled times. If it is an
inspiration to young people from ethnic minorities, then this is an added bonus.

But make no mistake, the board put Thiam in the driving seat because he is
the best person for the job. Way back in November 2007, Accountancy Age
said that Thiam was being groomed for the CEO position.

Thiam is a prodigiously gifted individual and one who has long been tipped
for the top, but he has a tough job ahead of him. Prudential is one of the
powerhouses of the insurance world, but in this environment, no company can
truly say it’s invulnerable.

He will have to shepherd the company through its adoption of the new
insurance accounting standard ­ market consistent embedded value ­ which has
split opinion in the industry and caused confusion among investors.

The last thing on his mind will be his new poster boy status. Whatever
happens, everyone will be watching Thiam’s progress very closely.

I would wish him luck ­ but somehow I don’t think he will need it.

David Jetuah is a reporter on Accountancy Age

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