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Financial grand fromages, from the Power 50 list

Of the finance directors from both UK plc and government – current and potentially future – in this year’s Power 50 list, who will make a big impression in a pivotal year?

The finance directors in the 2010 Power 50 list – our sister
title Accountancy Age’s annual roundup of who it thinks will be the
brightest stars in the financial sky – made the job of selecting them easier by
taking prominent roles in the propping up of the UK economy last year.

Standard Chartered FD Richard Meddings received plaudits for being part of
the UK Treasury’s ‘crisis cabinet’ last year, while HSBC’s Douglas Flint has a
long involvement with developing accounting standards; we rarely hear so much as
a peep from BG Group FD Ashley Almanza, but as head of The Hundred Group of
Finance Directors, he is driving the lobbying group behind the scenes.

Being an election year, the list features the current and perhaps future FDs
of UK government, the chancellor and shadow chancellor, boldly placing George
Osborne second. Whether Osborne will be the country’s number two remains to be
seen, while Accountancy Age doesn’t think much of Alistair Darling’s
deficit-busting plans, having put him just outside the top ten.

George Osborne, shadow chancellor of the exchequer
In at number two and potentially soon to be residing at 11 Downing Street,
Osborne’s career could reach new heights this year if his party comes to power
and he becomes the next chancellor. Conservative Party leader David Cameron
announced at the back end of last year that he would hold an emergency Budget
within 50 days of taking office if he won.

David Nish, chief executive, Standard Life
Seventh in the list, Nish took over from Sandy Crombie as CEO at the life
insurance and pensions giant last year after a well-regarded stint as FD. Nish
will have to keep an eye on former colleagues working at acquisition-hungry
Friends Provident – including Friends’ CFO, Evelyn Bourke – and deal with a
newly-streamlined Standard Life after the sale of its banking business.

Stacey Cartwright, FD, Burberry
When Burberry joined the FTSE-100 last Autumn, FD Cartwright gained membership
of an exclusive club of female FDs among the UK’s largest businesses and 2010 is
expected to see her continue to restore the luxury fashion house’s financial
health and reputation as its customers start spending again. At number 9 in
Accountancy Age’s list, she is one of the best paid of the four
FTSE-100 female FDs and one of the youngest.

Alistair Darling, chancellor of the exchequer
In at number 11 and still enjoying residence at Number 11 – though perhaps with
some boxes already packed – sits the Scotsman with the the £178bn unpaid bill.
Gordon Brown recently hinted that the chancellor may still deliver a Budget
before the General Election but unless Labour manages a remarkable turnaround in
the polls, it will likely be Darling’s last.

Stephen Smith, interim FD, Vantis
A boardroom reshuffle at the Aim-listed accountancy consolidator has seen
Stephen Smith parachuted in as interim FD, something he has done many times
before elsewhere. He will be kept busy at a business that has faced negative
press over its marketing of tax schemes and is understood to require cashflow
nursing. He is in at 20th on the list.

Ashley Almanza, CFO, BG Group
The well-respected but rarely-heard Almanza currently heads up The Hundred Group
of Finance Directors, which lobbies on everything from taxation to accounting
standards. Given this year’s General Election, the group is surely already in
gear to be the voice of the FD with the parties in competition for parliament.
And he is being kept busy with the addition last November of responsibility for
management of the group’s Europe & Central Asia business to his role –
possibly a sign of greater ambitions?

Richard Meddings, FD, Standard Chartered
Meddings was part of the ‘crisis cabinet’ that formulated the first UK bank
bailout, while presiding over one of the few banks that was virtually untouched
by the subprime crisis as its FD. He added responsibility for the group’s chief
risk officer to his role recently in a Walker Report-inspired split of its audit
and risk committees. At 25th place, Meddings can’t do any wrong.

Douglas Flint, FD, HSBC
Flint, at number 29 in the list, has flexed his corporate and financial muscle
among regulators, which listen to what he has to say, while few can take issue
with his bank’s numbers. As his rivals struggle with recovery, his influence
will no doubt grow. He and Meddings reign supreme in their sector right now.

David Tyler, chairman, Sainsbury’s
As with new Standard Life chief David Nish, Tyler has come from an impeccable
finance background to take one of the biggest jobs in the UK. Steering Justin
King and the rest of the Sainsbury’s team, the former Gus FD is not only
representing the finance community, but taking over from seasoned finance chief
and non-exec, Sir Philip Hampton.

To see the full Power 50 list ­compiled by Accountancy Age, click

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