Michaels, who is to take over as managing partner of BDO Stoy Hayward, will
have big shoes to fill. Or, rather, I should say he’ll have a rather large
megaphone to take over.
The current incumbent,
Newman, is nothing if not vocal about the issues that keep him awake at
night or monopolises his lunchtime conversation the Big Four audit debate.
Over the past two years Newman has maintained pressure on regulators over
audit choice, complaining of prejudice among big companies for the Big Four when
the mid-tier are more than capable of doing their audits. He even used a very
public blog to push his argument and took a swipe at the regulator when its
measures didn’t live up to his expectations.
I also seem to remember Newman being one of the first accountants to appear
on TV during the Enron crisis to talk about the employment opportunities of
staff at collapsed firm Andersen.
But Newman has not been a one trick pony. He has invested heavily in
marketing (frequently quoting the firm’s victory in the Accountancy Age Global
Firm of the Year award) and recruited new staff like they were going out of
fashion. He also bagged the firm some new premises.
So what will Michaels have left to do? Well, if he has the stomach for it, he
has to take the fight for the audit of large companies to the Big Four. His role
might be that of the managing partner who starts to build the critical mass in
the firm so it really does take high profile work away from the four largest
Or, he could say bugger it, we’re quite happy servicing the needs of large
owner-managed businesses and the risks associated with the publicly-quoted
sector in a credit crunch and economic downturn are much too high. Either way
there are interesting times ahead.
Gavin Hinks is editor of Accountancy Age
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