Financial power list 2008

financial power list

1 George Osborne, shadow

Since Alistair Darling’s pre-Budget report, which stole shamelessly from Tory
tax proposals, Osborne has become the de facto chancellor. As Labour’s support
in business circles dips, the Tories’ rises and Osborne is playing up to it with
a full charm offensive. Can he maintain the momentum?

Poynter, chairman, Pricewaterhousecoopers

The straight-talking chairman and senior partner of the UK’s largest accountancy
firm PricewaterhouseCoopers is never far from the limelight. And having been
chosen by chancellor Alistair Darling to investigate the circumstances of the
data loss from HM Revenue & Customs, Poynter is now a political figure. Will
he stick the boot in?

3 Paul Boyle, chief executive,
Financial Reporting Council

Boyle would be a key figure in any accounting power list, but 2007 has seen his
stock rise considerably. With his ideas on audit ownership gaining popularity
worldwide, Boyle looks set to eclipse his enemies at the Big Four who disliked
his interest in the audit choice area.

4 Dave Hartnett, acting chairman,
HM Revenue & Customs

As busy as 2007 was for Hartnett, the acting chairman will have to step up a
gear in the next 12 months. Expected to end up either as chief executive or
chairman at HMRC, Hartnett will have to restructure the department’s faltering
management team, batten down its IT hatches and meet tough service level

5 Alistair Darling, chancellor of
the Exchequer

Darling comes fifth in our list, way behind Osborne. He may have his fingers on
the buttons, but he doesn’t have his finger on the pulse. The Northern Rock
crisis and a botched attempt to reform capital gains tax made 2007 a year of
hell for Darling.

6 John Griffith-Jones, chairman,

Other Big Four bosses may make more money, but it is KPMG that is making the
running. The merger with the German firm is still fresh, and the rest of the
profession is watching expectantly. If it fails, the others will crow. If it
succeeds, the others will follow.

7 Arthur Levitt, chairman, US
Treasury advisory committee on the auditing profession

No stranger to putting the boot into the global firms, former SEC chairman
Levitt’s impending views on the concentrated US audit market are likely to be
more hard-hitting than the FRC’s equivalent. But if he barks, can his bite match
up? He lost out on plans to block auditors offering clients extra services in
2000 after all.

8 Pervenche Beres, chairman, EU
economic and monetary affairs committee

Beres ruffled feathers in 2007 at the International Accounting Standards Board
by challenging IFRS 8, the standard on the reporting of company segments. She
questioned the accountability of the IASB, and will likely be a thorn in its
side in 2008 as well.

9 Ashley Almanza, chairman, the
Hundred Group of Finance Directors

BG Group’s reclusive FD is known for letting the numbers do the talking, but his
appointment as chairman of the Hundred Group will demand a more prominent media
profile. He will need to come out of the shadows in 2008, and convey his views
on important matters like audit choice and corporate tax reform.

Cox, chairman, Securities and Exchange Commission

Cox recently redeemed himself on this side of the Atlantic, when he fulfilled a
promise on convergence of accounting standards by removing the requirement for
convergence to US GAAP for companies that use IFRS. Cox will remain significant
in 2008, but only by listening to what business has to say.

11 Fair Value

The summer credit crunch has provided the opponents of fair value with plenty of
ammunition as banks marked illiquid assets to market only to take heavy
writedowns later on. Talk of ‘bubble-blowing’ continues to abound as bank FDs
scramble desperately to clean up the mess and try and keep their jobs.

12 Sir David Tweedie, chairman,
International Accounting Standards Board

Love him or hate him, Sir David is doing exactly what his mandate set out –
conquering the world with a single set of accounting rules. There have been
obstacles at every turn but single-minded Sir David has not let these stand in
his way. Not to be underestimated.

13 David Viniar, CFO, Goldman

Long before the credit crunch, a Goldman Sachs team led by Viniar pulled off the
financial coup of the year. While other investment banks fell over each other to
get in on the sub-prime action, Viniar hedged against sub-prime – a move that
would earn his bank a £2bn windfall. Watch his star shine in 2008.

14 Sir Christopher Hogg, chairman,
Financial Reporting Council

Using one of the best contact books in the City, Sir Christopher is able to pull
people together from across the FTSE 100 in a single gathering. But in 2008,
we’ll see how tough the UK’s accounting watchdog will be as the credit crunch
derails business plans and challenges the work of FDs and auditors alike.

15 Peter Wyman, head of
professional affairs, PricewaterhouseCoopers

Over the past few years, Wyman has stepped out of the limelight but his
influence has not waned. Opinionated and clever, Wyman continues to ensure the
importance of accountancy in all spheres of life remains at the forefront. Today
he fights quietly but no less fiercely. He remains an accountant to be reckoned

16 Michael Cleary, chief executive,
Grant Thornton

BDO Stoy Hayward’s Jeremy Newman tends to get the headlines, but Grant
Thornton’s ‘quiet man’ Cleary has made an impact with the Robson Rhodes merger.
Most industry watchers are fairly skeptical about the firm’s ability to
challenge the Big Four, but for the time being Cleary’s actions are speaking
louder than BDO’s words.

17 New NAO chief

The individual selected to take control of the NAO in 2008 will be under the
most intense media scrutiny after the travails of Sir John Bourn. Pressure
aside, the new entrant will spearhead the operations of one of the UK’s most
influential watchdogs. His or her political and auditing clout cannot be

18 Gerrit Zalm, chairman, IASB

The former Dutch finance minister – and the longest-serving finance minister in
five cabinets from 1994 to 2007 – takes up the post of new head and overseer of
the IASB’s trustee committee in January 2008. His new role is no less political.

19 Helen Weir, FD, Lloyds

Brisk and to the point, Weir is one of the few banking FDs to remain blissfully
unaffected by the credit crunch. Lloyds hasn’t been involved in those sorts of
bets, so Weir isn’t spending her time totting up the losses. She wants to be a
chief executive, so 2008 may be her year.

20 Non-domiciles

Will they stay or will they go? The prospects for the UK’s 115,000 non-doms are
unclear. Faced with a crackdown on their remittance of income into the UK, as
well as a £30,000 charge if they are here for seven years or more, many are
saying that they’ll leave. The Treasury thinks it has the matter finely-balanced
and that they’ll stay. Watch this space.

21 Bob Mellors, FD, Sports

Sports Direct’s 2007 rollercoaster ride may come off the rails in 2008,and the
same could be true for ‘no-show FD’. Last year, Bob Mellors stuck to the shadows
as infuriated investors and analysts clamoured for his financial opinion. In
2008, Mellors will be forced to step up to the plate if Sports Direct’s troubles
continue – provided he hangs on to his FD role.

22 Baroness Noakes, Tory Treasury

Committed to transparency, the Treasury spokeswoman for the Conservative Party
last year successfully paved the way for public access to audit inspection
reports, of audit firms. The brains behind the more sensible Tory tax and
regulation moves, Noakes is the person to know at Tory HQ.

23 Mark Freebairn, head of the FD
practice, Odgers Ray & Berndtson

If you want a job as a top FD in the UK this may just be the man to deal with.
Widely regarded as perhaps the most influential man in his sector, Freebairn
knows everyone and their business. When it comes to contacts, there are few who
can rival, though Suzanne Wood at Heidrick & Struggles might dispute the

24 Charlie McCreevy, Internal
Markets commissioner, EU

McCreevy has shown his mettle since taking up his post at the EU. The Irish-born
politician is well respected in business circles. He is level-headed and fair
but ballsy. He’s also building bridges with the US by reciprocating the SEC
chairman’s decision to drop convergence to US GAAP.

25 Margaret Ewing, vice-chairman,

Fresh from being the saviour of BAA shareholders, Ewing has carved out a niche
at Deloitte as the agony aunt to top FDs. Close to chief executive John
Connolly, she is a very senior figure within Deloitte. Don’t be surprised to
see her star rise in 2008.

26 Richard Bacon, MP

Incisive and informed, Bacon is one of the most formidable members of the
Commons public accounts committee. With HMRC facing a leadership crisis and the
NAO recovering from the Sir John Bourn fallout, Bacon will be asking tough
questions and holding civil servants accountable.

27 John Connolly, chief executive,

It’s make or break for Connolly as the two years he gave Deloitte to hit £2bn in
revenues ends soon. He made some high-profile signings with Margaret Ewing and
Dame Sue Street. This year will show whether it was worth it.

28 Tony Orhnial, head of personal
taxes, The Treasury

Orhnial is the man in charge of personal tax and welfare reform at the Treasury.
He’ll take the flak if the non-dom decisions go horribly wrong, as well they
might. Come the year end, Orhnial might be called upon to sort out the mess.

Michael Izza, chief executive, ICAEW

There were calmer waters for the ICAEW in 2007, but boss Izza has several issues
to contend with, not least growing the institute on the international arena,
increasing static member numbers and making sure its new advisory board
structure works.

30 Jeremy Newman, managing partner,
BDO Stoy Hayward

Newman will cast a long shadow over Baker Street when he steps down as BDO Stoy
Hayward managing partner to lead BDO International. Newman has transformed BDO
into a Big Four challenger and has dominated the choice in the UK audit market

31 Jann Brown, FD, Cairn

The FD of Cairn Energy dismisses any notion of a glass ceiling in accountancy,
despite being one of a handful of women leading FTSE 100 company finance fu
nctions. But Brown’s achievements aren’t gender-related, she is at the
forefront of the oil company’s key operations in India, Bangladesh and Nepal.

32 Deepak Singh, CIO,

Disaster management may be part of Singh’s remit as a CIO, but even he wouldn’t
have thought it would be the main part of his new job with the taxman. The
newly-appointed IT boss has enough to deal with in bringing the department’s
systems into the 21st century, without working alongside PwC chairman Kieran
Poynter to make sure staff don’t remove any more sensitive info.

33 Jayne-Anne Gadhia, chief
executive, Virgin Money

If Virgin succeeds in annexing Northern Rock, Gadhia will have the fate of 6,000
of the ailing bank’s staff in her hands. Investors, mortgage holders, the
accountancy profession and the general public will look to Gadhia to engineer a

34 Chris Dickson, executive
counsel, JDS

Dickson’s tenure with the Joint Disciplinary Scheme is drawing to a close, but
he has been a formidable investigator of the profession’s misbehaviour. His last
cases could be among the most controversial. Will Ernst & Young escape the
rap for Equitable Life?

35 Judges, ICAEW

How will the judges in ICAEW’s discipliniaries respond to the public gaze? Some
members have warned the institute should look at its human rights compliance
before making the move, and it will involve a culture change at the institute.

36 Allen Blewitt, chief executive,

Blewitt’s time as ACCA boss has seen the association push into new territories
with zeal, while at home he has regularly stuck the boot into rivals ICAEW. Will
he go out with a bang during the next 12 months, and can his successor continue
his good work?

37 Gareth Arnold, UK head,
Microsoft small business software

The accounting community has waited long enough for Microsoft to break the small
business software monopoly. Now Arnold will lead the IT giant’s push to win over
accountants through special deals for Office Accounting 2008, and the set up of
its accountants’ network.

38 Derek Patterson, FD, IM

Moore Stephens is defending itself against a £45m negligence suit bankrolled by
a third party. The man in control of IM Litigation funding’s prodigious
purse-strings is FD Patterson. If the case against Moore Stephens is upheld,
Patterson could be at the heart of similar suits filed against other firms.


A wall of money is heading our way. Ernst & Young chairman Mark Otty hinted
earlier this year that a lot of work for the profession might come from such
pots of cash. Interested in buying up British business, the funds, will be
queuing up to take stakes in banks when they report (expected) writedowns at
their February year-ends.


The heir to the throne’s green accounting system was a decided success before
Christmas. BT chairman Sir Mike Rake said it was simpler and easier to use than
any others, and predicted it would be taken up by many companies, including his
own. Sir Michael Peat is the well-known accounting brain behind the royal.

41 Sir David Walker

The pioneer of the new code of conduct for the private equity industry will now
have to make sure the code works and is adhered to. He must also find a way to
make sovereign wealth funds play by the same rules as the buy-out funds.

42 Edward Troup, business tax
chief, the Treasury

The Treasury’s business tax chief faces a busy 12-months sorting out the chaos
of CGT reform. Reforming policy on foreign dividends, interest relief and CFCs
also remain to be resolved as the government continues to grapple with the
fallout from the European Court of Justice GLOs.

43 Anne Redston, small business tax

Still probably the sharpest of the taxman’s critics on small business taxation,
Redston will continue to be a candid critic of government in 2007. She rarely
misses the crucial point and was the campaigning adviser behind the celebrated
Arctic Systems cases.

44 Sir Mike Rake, chairman,

Sir Mike used to be chairman of KPMG International. Now he’s chairman at BT, on
the board of Barclays and of the Financial Reporting Council. Having changed
sides he stands on the brink of being one of the most influential people on
audit in the UK.

45 Mark Otty, chairman, Ernst
& Young

Otty is banking on success coming from the firm’s connections to the emerging
markets. With the established markets in meltdown that could be a good bet.

46 Linda Richardson, managing
partner, Morley & Scott

Count up the number of female managing partners out there and you get to the
grand total of… one. Linda Richardson runs Morley & Scott, which entered the
Accountancy Age Top 50 last year. She alone will carry the banner for women
reaching the top in accountancy practice.

47 Cameron Scott, executive
counsel, AIDB

Scott is the new Chris Dickson, the man charged with charging the profession for
its negligence and worse. His record – one case, one defeat – is not as stellar
as Dickson’s, but it would be a brave man who thought lightly of being inv
estigated by the FRC’s rottweiler. MG Rover, iSoft and Farepak should keep him

48 The junior official

We don’t know who he/she is, only that Alistair Darling thinks they’ve been a
very naughty boy/girl. But ironically, the official is now in a position of some
power. They will have a good story to tell about HMRC, and Darling will be
desperately hoping the unnamed bungler doesn’t lift the lid on the taxman’s

49 Accountancy Age avatar Belinda

She is dark and gorgeous and one of the thousands of characters populating the
bizarre virtual world Second Life. It may seem frivolous, but this parallel
computer world already has advisers pondering ways to use it for tax planning.
Blessed will be right there to cover this fast-evolving universe.

Kennedy, financial secretary to the Treasury

It’s a matter of when, not if, Kennedy hits the headlines for her role in
effectively overseeing the tax system, something which hasn’t gone too well
recently, to say the least.

View previous financial power lists here:

power list 2007

power list 2006

power list 2005

power list 2004

power list 2003

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