Telling the truth about SME life today

We ve got five years

In the Grade II-listed Victorian splendour of Chartered Accountants’ Hall, the highest-calibre financial talent gathered for the launch this week of the 2010 FDs’ Excellence Awards, in association with the ICAEW.

Top of the bill was Paul Richardson, chief financial officer at WPP, who has worked alongside founder Sir Martin Sorrell building a global marketing services group. Now based in New York, Richardson is a former winner of the “FDs’ FD of the Year” at the FDs’ Excellence Awards and shared fascinating insights from 20 years at the top of business.

During his time at WPP, Richardson said, he has lived through many crises of confidence in the business community: the corporate frauds of the early nineties (Robert Maxwell and Asil Nadir’s Polly Peck); the dot-com “mania” of the turn of the century; the unravelling of Enron, Andersens and WorldCom and the regulatory initiatives and reports that followed – Greenbury, Cadbury, Hamel, Turnbull, Higgs, Sarbanes-Oxley…

Today, of course, the world is living through a major recession and, as CBI president Helen Alexander also pointed out at the FDs’ Excellence launch, a collapse in trust in business and our political institutions.

For business, said Richardson, the big new challenges are: privacy and the digital revolution; China and the emerging markets; corporate sustainability; and our responsibility for the planet’s raw materials.

He warned that some of the new emerging markets such as Brazil are more accustomed to the state of constant volatility that the world now faces.

To stay ahead, business leaders should remain focused on two central issues: where do you want the company to be in five years’ time; and where do you want to be in five years’ time.

Also launching the awards, ICAEW CEO Michael Izza encouraged finance directors to participate in the FDs’ Survey, which analyses FDs’ views of the service they receive from their auditors; banks; law firms and technology providers.

Readers can register their views here:

He also formally announced the search for nominations in four awards categories:

•    Young FD of the Year•    Private Company FD of the Year•    The ICAEW Inspiring Confidence in Business Award, recognising an FD who has made an outstanding contribution to linking sustainability activities to organisational performance.•    The ICAEW Inspiring Confidence in the Community Award, recognising an FD who has made an outstanding contribution to the community by making an educational contribution to financial awareness and skills.

For more information on all these awards and the FDs’ Survey, please visit the awards website here:


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