RegulationCorporate GovernanceOn the money with Gavin Hinks

On the money with Gavin Hinks

UK plc saw another female finance director quit last week

Rosemary Thorne departed Ladbrokes, after just 13 months in the job. It
requires no pass in double-entry bookkeeping to tally up just how few female FDs
are now left.

Certainly Thorne’s departure was unexpected, sparking some talk in the market
about what could have prompted the exit, though the coverage in the press was
non-committal, some going so far as to say it was by mutual consent.

But that’s an interesting phrase because it certainly wasn’t in the statement
put out by Ladbrokes, which was, despite perfunctorily noting her ‘valuable’
service, a tad on the brief side. Let’s say it wasn’t the most generous send-off
that chief executive Christopher Bell could have given.

Does that leave volumes unspoken, I hear you ask? Possibly, but don’t assume
it’s all bad about Thorne.

There could be any number of reasons why an FD leaves. It’s possible that
there’s fundamental disagreement about the strategic direction of the company,
or that FD and CEO find that theirs is not a harmonious personal relationship.
And if tensions arise, as they do for an untold number of reasons, then there’s
a decision to be made about whether the company is the right place to be.

Insiders tell me there is little reason to worry for Thorne – the Ladbrokes
episode has done her no harm and her options remain open. She could pitch up
again in another corporate, but it’s likely that she’ll make more of her current
work as a non exec at CadburySchweppes.

A headhunter told me recently that recruitment for FDs and CFOs is going
‘bananas’ with placement up around 30% on last year. Thorne will probably be
able to name her price.

Gavin Hinks is the editor of Accountancy Age

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