THE CHAIR of the Hundred Group of finance directors and the next CFO of Royal Bank of Scotland were among the leading UK finance chiefs recognised in Accountancy Age’s list 2014 Financial Power List.
The list, which highlights the top 50 most prominent accounting and financial professionals likely to influence the profession over the coming 12 months, was headed by Laurence Longe, managing partner at Baker Tilly, the firm which acquired RSM Tenon in a pre-pack merger.
Of the finance directors featured on the list, the next, as yet unnamed CFO of Royal Bank of Scotland made the top ten. As probably the most prominent role in British banking, whoever replaces Nathan Bostock as chief financial officer at the 81%-taxpayer-owned bank will need to play a key role in any future privatisation of the bank.
Robin Freestone, CFO of Pearson and chairman of The 100 Group of finance directors, appears in the list for the second year in succession.
As chairman of The 100 Group of finance directors, a discreet but highly influential group of the UK’s most prominent CFOs, Freestone will play a key role in shaping the business landscape in Britain. Among Freestone’s priorities in his second year as chair, will be the need to improve the competitiveness of the UK by pushing back on proposed regulation unless it has a clearly explained, justified and costed rationale; promote efficient capital markets and long term equity ownership in large UK-based corporates; and improve the profile of big business as a force for good.
Another stalwart of the list, Richard Pennycook, appears in twenty-first place. The winner of the Outstanding Achievement Award at the inaugural Business Finance Awards, and with a long career behind him, it seemed time for him to take a back seat – or at least a portfolio of non-exec roles. But no. Unable to resist the lure of using his finance and turnaround skills, Pennycook has taken on the huge challenge of stabilising the Co-op. With Lord Myners leading a governance review, headlines will ensue.
Given the number of people who spent Christmas without power and the mainstream media’s concern over the UK’s ability to keep its lights on, the activities of National Grid FD Andrew Bonfield, who appears at number 35, are likely to pique a fair amount of interest.
The position of central government CFO was also included in the list. Following a financial management review, the Treasury is to create a new chief financial officer for central government role that combines the existing role of head of the government finance profession with that of the Treasury’s director general public spending.
Some would say it sounds like a nightmare role. Others, such as the ICAEW and PwC believe it is of critical importance. The ICAEW is not so happy that the mooted role seems likely to be a combination of the head of public spending and head of the government finance profession.
Other prominent figures to feature in the list include Stephen Haddrill, CEO, of the FRC; Paul Druckman, CEO of the International Integrated Reporting Council; Mark Carney, governor of the Bank of England and not forgetting George Osborne.