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Financial Power List 2011: accounting intelligence

Tax and audit reform, public sector spending cuts, new accounting rules for SMEs and international standards convergence... In a year of big changes in the profession, who will wield the most influence over the future direction of accounting?

John Whiting, tax director, Office of Tax Simplification
Former PwC partner Whiting is best known as the media’s favourite tax pundit. Now the avuncular accountant with the unfashionable glasses has the chance to recommend potentially far-reaching changes to the UK tax system in his new role as joint head of the Office of Tax Simplification. The recently created body will produce a report of recommendations for simplifying the tax system before the Budget later this year and, if recent talk about merging NICs and income tax is anything to go by, the proposals could be radical.


Michel Barnier, European commissioner for internal market and services
“The status quo is not an option.” With this declaration, Michel Barnier put in motion a reform process that may result in change for auditors not seen since the 2002 collapse of Anderson. Barnier’s proposals have the potential to affect every aspect of the industry, but he may face opposition from London and the Big Four.


David Sproul, UK CEO, Deloitte
John Connolly led Deloitte to the position of largest global firm and is now passing the reins to Sproul to continue the momentum and perhaps gain the top spot in the UK. The incoming CEO will also be tasked with helping to shape global CEO Jim Quigley’s “as one” strategy to streamline the firm internationally.


Hans Hoogervorst, incoming chairman, International Accounting Standards Board
As a non-accountant, Hoogervorst’s appointment as the replacement for Sir David Tweedie at the IASB was something of a surprise and signals the board’s greater sensitivity to the political implications of its decisions. The former Dutch finance minister will have to appease politicians’ concerns over its accounting standards and drive convergence with the US, while vice-chairman Ian Mackintosh looks after the technical side.


Andy Halford, chairman, the Hundred Group of Finance Directors
Vodafone CFO Halford takes the reins at the discrete but influential lobby group, consisting of mainly FTSE 100 FDs. His first announcement was his desire to raise the group’s profile. Halford is also planning to tackle what he labels a new phase of UK competitiveness, which will determine the country’s economic wellbeing in the future.


Baroness Hogg, chairman, Financial Reporting Council
Baroness Hogg has wasted no time stamping her authority on the Financial Reporting Council. The former head of the Prime Minister’s policy unit brought with her connections from the most exclusive political and business circles – contacts she will likely call on as the FRC is reshaped under government reform plans in the year ahead.


George Osborne MP, chancellor of the exchequer
The saviour of the UK economy, offering the eco­nomic equivalent of tough love, or a Thatcherite ideologue pushing through deep spending cuts that will
create a double-dip recession? Osborne tends to divide opinion, but so far he has confounded critics, who predicted that he would be the weak link in the cabinet.


Mary Schapiro, chairman, US Securities and Exchange Commission
It will be Schapiro who has the final say on whether the US signs up for global accounting convergence, allowing much easier comparisons between company accounts on either side of the Atlantic. But, while the decision to adopt international standards should happen this year, the process seems to be taking a lot longer than anticipated. It could be late 2011 before Schapiro finally gives the nod.


Mervyn King, governor, Bank of England
Although outspoken against bankers’ tax avoidance, King really has audit on his mind. On his agenda is a move to make auditors work for the bank – protocols are being outlined to bring the two parties closer together as it becomes the banks’ regulator.


Isobel Sharp, partner, Deloitte
Regarded as one of the UK’s finest technical minds, Sharp is best known for the key role she played in the creation of accounting standards for micro businesses. Sharp’s influence and input will likely play a decisive role as the Accounting Standards Board considers whether to scrap its current accounting code for non-listed companies.


11 Stephen Haddrill, chief executive, Financial Reporting Council
Haddrill has a fight on his hands gathering support for changes to auditor liability rules, which many firms consider essential if they are to take on more responsibility as part of proposed EU audit reforms. There is currently little political enthusiasm for it in Brussels. At the same time he is in discussions with SEC chairman Mary Schapiro about trans-Atlantic audit regulation.

12 Michael Izza graph-top50-michael-izza

13 Peter Mitchell, chairman of the Society of Professional Accountants
Outspoken but never unbowed, Mitchell has stood up for smaller practice interests since he formed the breakaway organisation in the mid-90s. Mitchell is heavily involved in making sure the ICAEW formalises a new regime for its practice members.

14 Julia Wilson, finance director, 3i
Wilson had a busy 2010 at the private equity firm with the sale of Dutch pump maker Hyva for €525m, having bought the business in 2004 for €125m. 3i is one of the largest private equity groups in the country and has just completed an acquisition of German jewellery company Amor. Wilson also hopes to provide a new revenue stream through offering businesses outsourced finance services in the future.

15 UK Uncut

16 Eric Schneiderman, New York State attorney general
Schneiderman is only a few weeks into his new job, but you wouldn’t guess from looking at his intray. It will fall to him to prosecute Ernst & Young, which is being accused of helping Lehman Brothers hide mountains of debt in the lead up to its collapse. The case represents the first major litigation against a big auditor stemming from events which took place during the banking crisis.

17 Clive Betts MP, chairman, communities and local government committee
Who will audit the Audit Commission’s demise? The communities and local government committee is set to begin an inquiry into how local authority expenditure can be audited with an oversight body. Expect interview sessions containing much gnashing of teeth.

18 Lord Lawson, House of Lords economic affairs committee
As part of the House of Lords economic affairs committee, the former chancellor has provided the toughest line of questioning for auditors during the inquiry into their role in the banking crisis. Having previously called bank auditors “the dogs that didn’t bark” he will have a significant influence on any final recommendations from the committee.

19 Dave Hartnett, permanent secretary for tax, HM Revenue & Customs
When you’re the UK’s most senior taxman no year is quiet, but 2011 is set to be a particularly challenging year for Dave Hartnett. He will be under pressure to maximise every last penny of tax revenue to bolster the UK economy, at a time when public spending cuts kick in. He will also play a key role in deciding how to enact the recommendations from a report by the Office of Tax Simplication, as well as overseeing an ongoing clampdown on offshore tax evasion.

20 Ian Powell, chairman, PwC
Powell has showed a calming, no airs and graces attitude as head of the prestigious firm – but is still a strategic thinker. PwC made a bold step in asking audit clients to disclose more about internal policies in their accounts. He has to fend off Deloitte to keep PwC as the UK’s biggest firm by revenue.

21 Roger Marshall, interim chairman, Accounting Standards Board
Marshall took the reins at the accounting standards board from straight-talking Ian Mackintosh. This year will see him leading the ASB during a delicate period when the organisation attempts to bring in new accounting standards for medium-sized businesses. Navigating this political landscape, while keeping the board happy, will take all his considerable skill.

22 Mark Freebairn, partner, Odgers Berndtson
As head of the CFO practice at headhunting firm Odgers Berndtson, Freebairn is the man to know for ambitious FDs looking for their next big role or a non-exec placement. He is a strong advocate of FDs and CFOs being among the best placed to make the move to chief executive or chairman at top companies.

23 Alan Johnson MP, shadow chancellor
With a self-confessed lack of number-crunching skills, Johnson has made up for his lack of a maths brain with a good grasp of linguistics instead. Can he continue with the put-downs that will count against Osborne? His lack of support for his boss’s rhetoric around the 50p tax rate is still an open wound in 2011.

24 Mark Serwotka, general secretary, Public and Commercial Services Union
This year is set to be a year of strikes across the public sector as workers protest against the government’s public spending cuts. According to recent reports, the big public sector unions plan to co-ordinate future strikes in the Spring in order to maximise their impact. As head of the PCS union, which has a big membership among HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) staff, Serwotka will play a key role in the opposition to cuts. Disruption to the tax system is likely.

25 Fiona Hotston Moore, partner, Crowe Clark Whitehill
The former managing partner for MRI Moores Rowland, before its merger with Mazars, now leads the audit division at Crowe Clark Whitehill. She has been at the company for less than six months and has already won several private and listed clients, which is set to push the firm higher up the Top 50 table.

26 John Griffith-Jones

27 Mark Hoban MP, financial secretary to the Treasury
Moving through the Tory ranks, the long-time PwC accountant took a more active role in the profession when he headed up the all-party accounting group. Now involved in the reform of the Bank of England’s regulatory remit, Hoban has now been thrust into the limelight.

28 Tim Bush, accounting activist
Bush’s attack on international reporting standards is not likely to abate in 2011. His arguments have peaked the interest of a House of Lords inquiry and will likely feature in their eventual findings. His belief that IFRS eroded the concept of prudence in accounting standards has turned heads in high places. The question remains whether this will lead to real reform.

29 Cameron Scott, executive counsel, Accountancy and Actuarial Discipline Board
Scott takes some weighty investigations with him into 2011– not least the investigation into Ernst & Young’s audit of Lehman Brothers. There are also active investigations into KPMG and PwC. It all adds up to a busy 2011. The real test will be whether he can claim a scalp – a feat the AADB has yet to achieve.

30 Andy Raynor, chief executive, RSM Tenon
It was a great 2010 for RSM Tenon under Raynor. Now he must convince the City that the firm’s listing on the main market is justified and completely integrate Vantis and Bentley Jennison. He wants “stability”, but has spent before when an opportunity arises – is the Audit Commission on his radar?

31 Louise Brittain, reorganisation services partner, Deloitte
Brittain has been penned the go-to-girl for HM Revenue & Customs and for large and international fraud investigations. She has been kept busy at Deloitte tracing assets for creditors from former footballer Colin Hendry to the ongoing investigation of former city broker Nicholas Levene, who fled the country last year.

32 Leslie Seidman, chairman, Financial Accounting Standards Board
Following the sudden departure of former chairman Bob Herz, Seidman initially took on the role in an interim capacity before the position was made permanent at the end of last year. Her views on fair value – she favours the IASB’s rules to those of FASB – could be influential in whether international standards are adopted in the US.

33 Vince Cable MP, business secretary
Vince Cable’s political reputation took a hammering in December last year after he told undercover Telegraph reporters posing as his constituents that he had “declared war on Murdoch”. The business secretary was quickly stripped of responsibility for media competition, but he remains in the cabinet at a time when the government mulls reforms to the banking industry.

34 Frances Coulson, vice president, R3   
Solicitor Coulson will take the helm as president of the UK’s largest insolvency trade body this year, succeeding Steven Law. The partner and head of insolvency at Moon Beever will have her hands full as the government launches its consultation on pre-pack administrations, and possible changes to insolvency law in April.

35 Jayne Archbold, managing director accountants’ division, Sage
The FTSE 100 tech company is set to make several big changes to the accountants’ division this year. Archbold told Accountancy Age there will be modifications to the accountants’ club and the business announced it will release online services later this year. Archbold will also be kept busy when HMRC switches corporate tax filing to the online iXBRL format in April.

36 Pauline Wallace, head of regulatory policy, PwC
There are few accounting subjects Wallace can’t speak authoritatively on. A member of the Accounting Standards Board, Wallace holds much of PwC’s intellectual capital in the area of accounting standards and audit. Wallace will be likely be the one articulating PwC’s position on audit reform and new accounting standards in the year ahead.

37 Peter Montagnon, senior investment adviser, Financial Reporting Council
After working as a journalist for 20 years, Montagnon spent nearly a decade fighting for investor rights at the Association of British Insurers before joining the FRC last year.
He has the tricky task of encouraging adoption of the FRC’s stewardship code among the investor community and ensuring a greater interest is taken by shareholders.

38 Steve Maslin, senior audit partner, Grant Thornton
The current Accountancy Age Personality of the Year spent much of last year advocating the need for real reform in audit, while defending auditors’ work in the face of political attacks. He wants the dialogue between auditors and audit committees to be more open to investors and will continue to be a voice of influence in 2011 as the role of audit is discussed in the UK and Europe.

39 Danny Alexander

40 Oliver Tant, head of audit, KPMG
Tant enters an uncertain 2011 when the role of audit is debated at the highest levels. With regulators keen to see firms outside the Big Four taking on more audits, the onus will be on Tant to justify that the Big Four is better. He will also have to contend with greater restrictions on auditors performing restructuring work.

41 Mark Otty, managing partner EMEIA, Ernst & Young
Otty will have to steer E&Y through some choppy waters in the year ahead. He has a US court case, over the collapse of Lehman Brothers, which could cover work completed by the UK firm. He is also contending with an investigation by the Accountancy & Actuarial Discipline Board, all the while trying keeping an eye on European audit reform initiatives.

42 Ken Frost, scourge of HMRC
Known better as one of the ICAEW’s main agitators during its failed attempt to merge with CIPFA, Frost has more recently, and equally successfully, channeled his ire at the taxman. His blog,, has consistently come up with nuggets of information HMRC would rather not have been made public.

43 Sir David Tweedie, chairman, International Accounting Standards Board
He may be on his way out, but don’t expect this wily Scotsman to go quietly. He now has less than six months to convince the US to adopt international accounting rules. Expect Sir David’s rhetoric to be ratcheted up as the June 2011 deadline approaches and he tries to get the world’s largest economy over the finishing line.

44 Paul Hocking, chairman, Frank Hirth
As one of the fastest growing firms in the country, Frank Hirth broke into the Accountancy Age Top 50 in 2009 and jumped another nine places with growth of 31% last year. Its specialism of providing tax advice to wealthy trans-Atlantic workers had paid dividends during the deep recession. Hocking will be striving to ensure 2011 is another bumper year.

45 Margaret Hodge MP, chairman, public accounts committee
Hodge, a former PwC consultant and Labour minister, was appointed chair of the influential public spending watchdog last year. She made a strong start. During one committee hearing, Hodge forced HM Revenue & Customs’ chief executive, Leslie Strathie, to concede that the taxman would miss its target of resolving 17.9 million PAYE errors by 2012 if the department was hit by further cuts in the spending review. Will Hodge help the PAC maintain its edge during 2011?

46 Douglas Flint, chairman, HSBC
Flint has cemented his position as one of the most senior and powerful accountants in the country with his elevation from group finance director to chairman at banking giant HSBC. He may not be as involved in the numbers anymore, but serves as a shining example that accountants can step up to some of the biggest business roles in the world.

47 Jackie Hunt, group finance director, Standard Life
Hunt took up her role in May 2010 and is joined by just three other female finance directors in the FTSE 100. She was keenly sought after by the team at the insurers, initially creating a deputy CFO role for her that was dropped after her promotion. She has created two new positions in the finance function and hopes to shake things up at the insurers.

48 Gary Turner, UK managing director, Xero
In the last year the New Zealand-based company has tripled its customer numbers in the UK. It has also recently managed to link bank and credit card transactions from about 80 financial institutions to its accountancy software at no extra cost. Turner has told Accountancy Age he also plans to roll out the same technology internationally in the first half of this year.

49 Sir Mike Rake, chairman, BT
A figurehead for the profession, Sir Mike watches over the running of not only BT, but easyJet as well. Throw in directorships at Barclays and the Financial Reporting Council; plus RNIB, CBI and BUPA roles, then it’s clear that his influence on governance is still huge post-KPMG.

50 Paul Druckman, co-chairman, International Integrated Reporting Committee working group
The former ICAEW president is at the head of one of the world’s most high profile committees, tasked with finding ways to help international businesses integrate environmental impacts into their financial reporting. He co-chairs with Ian Ball, the chief executive of the international federation of accountants, and sits alongside Mervyn King, Michael Izza and PwC international chairman Dennis Nally at the IIRC.

Financial power list 2010

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