Uncovering the City psyche

The author, David Freud, great grandson of Sigmund Freud, who has spent many
a year immersed in City life does, however, tell us that life in the City is all
about fast-paced business dealings dominated by powerful characters and egos.

So there we have it – ego-driven maniacs driving business growth in the UK.
Coincidentally, many would have us believe that the role of finance director has
become very rock and roll. Indeed FDs have taken a more central position on the
business stage but it is a step out of the shadows rather than to front of

This is a good sign. It’s an indicator that more people are more interested
in factual information and it serves to highlight the growing accountability of
business in the modern world. It also means that accountants have never been in
greater demand. On the whole, the best finance directors are, as you might
expect, accountants. Look at David Tyler, FD of GUS, owner of credit checking
agency Experian and part owner of luxury goods brand Burberry, he is an example
used by many to describe of the accountant as a leading light in business.

Yet not as many people would suggest that FDs have taken on the traditional
role of the chief executive. Yes they are often the face of the company among
investor briefings, but this is as far as it goes.

As the role has grown and developed, attempts have been made to mould the
accountant into an entrepreneur, to put them in direct competition with MBO
graduates. Granted there are some exuberant, colourful finance directors out
there. But the finance directors of business, irrespective of the size of
companies, remain on the whole the quieter, more serious types.

You could say this doesn’t do a lot for the career aspirations of the
majority of accountants – that they are mostly process and service driven and
largely not egocentric deal makers. And you would be right in this definition
but it should hardly be seen as a negative one.

If all the CEOs and City types are egomaniacs then it’s great news for
business that accountants and FDs remain strategists. That way the City of
London can continue to forge its path to being the best place to do business in
the world ahead, knowing there are plenty of FDs to keep their feet on the

Michelle Perry is acting features editor of Accountancy Age

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