Julia Irvine 4 Jul 2018 04:47pm

FRC appoints ex-NAO man to regulatory role

The Financial Reporting Council (FRC) has appointed a non-Big Four accountant to take on the audit and actuarial regulation executive directorship position left vacant by the resignation last week of Melanie Hind

Mike Suffield, who joined the regulator in July 2016 as director of audit quality, qualified as a chartered accountant at Coopers & Lybrand where he spent seven years as an auditor before joining the National Audit Office in 1995.

He will take over Hind’s role in an acting capacity from 1 August and will join the FRC’s executive committee at the same time.

Hind, who has been with the FRC since June 2012 and is a former PwC partner, is leaving to take up a family opportunity overseas.

During her time at the regulator she has been heavily involved in the development of audit quality in the UK. She led the FRC’s audit and actuarial division through a period of change, most recently when it took on the role of the UK’s competent authority for statutory audit.

“In her previous role of executive director, codes and standards, Melanie led the transformation of UK accounting standards and ground-breaking developments of the UK Corporate Governance Code to promote more effective company stewardship,” said FRC chief executive Stephen Haddrill.

“Her contribution to the FRC at board and executive level has also been significant. We wish her well for the future.”

The FRC has recently faced accusations from a range of commentators that it is conflicted because its leadership is dominated by ex-partners of the Big Four accountancy firms which it also regulates.

This became particularly acute after the regulator announced last September that it had decided to close its investigation into KPMG’s audit of HBOS.

Paul George, the FRC’s corporate governance and reporting executive director and a former partner in KPMG, was reported in the Times as overseeing the FRC’s decision in 2013 to tighten its definition of misconduct. The rule change, financial editor Patrick Hosking suggested, could have helped exonerate the firm four years later.

The FRC categorically denied there was any conflict, pointing out that the definition was changed after widespread consultation with stakeholders and well ahead of the HBOS case.

However, in October last year, in response to the reaction to the HBOS decision, it announced it would publish a register of interests for all board members, committees and councils, in the hope, said FRC chairman Sir Win Bischoff, that this would “further remove doubt about the objectivity of our decisions”.

Since then it has been increasing the number of non-accountant appointments to its committees and boards.

In April this year, both George and Hind (then known as McLaren) stood down as members of the FRC board.

They were replaced by two non-accountants, Julia Unwin, chair of the independent inquiry into the future of civil society in England, and Jenny Watson, chair of the Portman Group’s independent complaints council.