Government hunts for new UK accountancy watchdog chair amid industry overhaul

The UK government has begun a formal recruitment drive to hire a new chair to lead the board of the accounting regulator, replacing current interim chair Keith Skeoch who is due to depart in October.

A hiring notice for chair of the Financial Reporting Council is live online, advertised by the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. It promises an annual salary of £125,000 for the two-and-a-half days required for the job per week.

The government has come under heavy criticism for failing to have a permanent chair to lead the beleaguered regulator, which has now seen two interim chairs fill the position consecutively.

Legal & General chair Sir John Kingman said last month that it was “indefensible” that the audit regulator has not had a permanent chair for a year.

READ  Legal & General chair Sir John Kingman blasts government over neglect of audit regulator

Skeoch, the former chief executive of asset manager Standard Life, took on the role of interim chair in October 2020, after stepping down from his SLA role earlier in the year.

The appointment came after the exit of former chair Simon Dingemans, who departed after only eight months in the role in May last year. He became managing director of UK buyout and European healthcare activities for US private equity giant Carlyle.

The recruitment of a new chair also comes at a crucial time for the watchdog, which must also grapple with regulatory changes that will force a separation between audit and non-audit services among the Big Four firms.

READ Former Standard Life Aberdeen boss Keith Skeoch confirmed as interim audit watchdog chair

The current model by which accountancy firms conduct their advisory and audit practices has been identified as a core concern due to the conflicts of interest that it perpetuates.

The overhaul follows a critical 2018 report by Kingman, who recommended a more effective regulator.

The incoming chair would be expected to oversee the FRC’s transition into a new regulator — the Audit, Reporting and Governance Authority (ARGA) — which the advert says will be “central to the once in a lifetime opportunity for reform of audit and corporate governance in partnership with government”.

To contact the author of this story with feedback or news, email Penny Sukhraj

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