The Financial Reporting Council – is this a bad joke?

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Accountancy Age has reported that the Financial Reporting Council has announced the members of its new board. As it notes:

The board will be led by current chairman, Sir Christopher Hogg and CE Paul Boyle. Baroness Sarah Hogg will serve as deputy chair. According to the FRC, the new board will be enlarged to sixteen members by the addition of the chairs of the FRC's Operating Bodies in the coming months.

But more important are the non-exec members, who are:

Eric Anstee: until end 2006, chief executive of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales. Has been CFO of three FTSE 100 companies and is currently a non-executive director of Insight Investments.

Peter Chambers: chief executive officer, Legal & General Investment Management.

Rudy Markham: chief financial officer, Unilever, and a non-executive director of Standard Chartered and Legal & General.

Sir Michael Rake: chairman of BT and the UK Commission for Employment and Skills. Immediate past chairman of KPMG International.

Sir Steve Robson: until 2001 second permanent Secretary at HM Treasury. Currently a non-executive director of Xstrata, Royal Bank of Scotland, JP Morgan Cazenove and Partnerships UK.

Sir John Sunderland: chairman, Cadbury Schweppes, and a non-executive director of Barclays. Immediate past President of the CBI.

Lindsay Tomlinson: vice-Chairman, Barclays Global Investors. Past Chairman of the Investment Management Association and of the Professional Affairs Board of the Institute of Actuaries.

Very politely, this is a joke. The FRC says of itself on its web site:

The UK's independent regulator responsible for promoting confidence in corporate reporting and governance.

It's powers are quasi legal: accounting standards do, after all, have the force of law.

In which case wouldn't you have expected someone who was not an accounts producer amongst the non-execs? Maybe a user, such as a pension fund representative, or a member of civil society, or perhaps an academic or two? But not a hint is found of any such attempt at objectivity.

The old boys and girls club rules. And credibility departed through the first available exit as a consequence.

I will not be the only one who has no confidence that this team has no chance of promoting confidence in corporate reporting and governance. Could they really have imagined otherwise?

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