Features
29 May 2013

Future stars of finance

We asked you to identify the young financial talent currently standing out form their contemporaries. The 20 names here are the pick of your nominations

Daniel P Ahn

28, chief commodities economist, Citigroup

Dan AhnIt’s impressive that Ahn should hold a chief economist position under 30, but it’s not his first one. He had a similar role at hedge fund Citadel Investment Group following stints at Lehman Brothers and Barclays Capital. Add to that his Ph.D in economics from Harvard at 22; BA in economics and finance from Princeton University; his teaching at Columbia University; and testifying before Congress and it’s no wonder he’s considered one to watch. Research and teaching interests include international economics, behavioural finance and the economics of national security.

Teaching at Harvard University Department of Economics, the John F Kennedy School of Government and at the National Bureau of Economic Research, and an adjunct research fellow position at the Council on Foreign Relations, mean his star continues to burn brightly.

Juliette Andlaw

34, financial controller, Rocket Food

Andlaw’s career is as dynamic and fast-moving as her entrepreneurial employer. Rocket Food is an exciting boutique catering business with a list of private and corporate clients. Since arriving, Andlaw has played a key role in implementing new financial management systems that have supported growth and allowed the family board to focus on the food operations.

Andlaw’s career is as dynamic and fast-moving as her entrepreneurial employer. Rocket Food is an exciting boutique catering business with a list of private and corporate clients. Since arriving, Andlaw has played a key role in implementing new financial management systems that have supported growth and allowed the family board to focus on the food operations.

Grant Thornton’s Sacha Romanovich says she is: “An extremely capable financial controller with flair for the creative side of growing a business as well as excellent interpersonal skills.” Andlaw studied hotel and tourism at college before discovering a love for numbers working in a children’s nursery as office manager. She retrained as an accountant, qualified and then switched to industry.  

Success in a professional services firm doesn’t require leavers have played a major role

Jo Bateson

33, KPMG

Bateson is tax director in KPMG’s Private Client Advisory practice and one of KPMG’s youngest-ever tax directors. She joined in 2005, rose through the ranks and was appointed director in 2011. She works for a range of high-profile individuals and corporate clients and also established KPMG’s first family limited partnership. David Kilshaw, chair of KPMG’s Private Client Advisory practice, says she is “the definition of client-focused and client-friendly.”

He adds: “She is a high achiever because she is known and valued by the high achievers at the top of our biggest clients.” Bateson has previously been named in Management Today’s 35 Under 35, as well as Private Client Practitioner’s Top 35 under 35. She has also been selected for KPMG’s own Emerging Leader programme.

Tracy Britt

28, financial assistant to chairman, Berkshire Hathaway

Speculation mounts about who might replace Berkshire Hathaway chairman and investment legend Warren Buffett when he calls it a day. Buffett says he knows his successor but refuses to announce it. Busily doing some number crunching and financial research for him is Tracy Britt.

The Harvard MBA is also chairman of two Berkshire-owned companies, Benjamin Moore and Larson-Juhl. While at Harvard she struck up a relationship with Buffett, approaching him to see if he would meet with Smart Woman Securities, a group she co-founded to provide investment education for women.

After graduation in 2009 she went to Omaha to visit Buffett. Legend has it she showed up with a bushel of sweetcorn and some tomatoes as a gift. It did the trick and Buffett fell for her chutzpah. She has been his financial assistant ever since. Buffett made her chairman of framing company Larson-Juhl in 2012, and then paint retailer Benjamin Moore. Investment mentors don’t come bigger than Buffett and it’s a safe bet that she has an equally big future ahead.

Arbinder Chatwal

 32, BDO

Chatwal is already an audit director and head of the BDO India Advisory Services team. Colleagues say he has a “rare combination of talents” for a young ACA. Chatwal also finds time to develop younger auditors. Most remarkable is how far he has taken his role as leader on the BDO India Advisory Services team.


Arbinder Chatwal
Chatwal is already an audit director and head of the BDO India Advisory Services team. Colleagues say he has a “rare combination of talents” for a young ACA. Chatwal also finds time to develop younger auditors. Most remarkable is how far he has taken his role as leader on the BDO India Advisory Services team.

In just a year he has convinced colleagues of Indian descent to host events and attend meetings and helped encourage UK companies to seek opportunities to exploit India’s market. Running and attending events all over the UK, he played a key role in getting BDO to sponsor the British Indian Awards in Birmingham. Colleagues refer to his passion, energy and infectious enthusiasm.

Ben Felton

30, CFO, Norman Broadbent

Aim-listed global executive search firm Norman Broadbent was purchased by Garner plc in 2008 and Felton has been instrumental in developing and shaping the business. He is described by Fiona Hotston-Moore, a partner at Reeves (where Felton trained) as being: “Diligent, thorough and highly skilled in managing the financial affairs of Norman Broadbent and its ever-growing group of companies.”

She adds that he is a “reliable and trustworthy professional with significant business acumen and entrepreneurial skills beyond his years, which makes him a significant asset”. Felton has plenty of commercial experience gained from both business and practice. Having trained and qualified at Reeves, he left to work as a financial controller at UBS Investment Bank before joining Norman Broadbent. He is widely tipped by those who meet him and work with him as a rising star.

Dan White

 27, Haines Watts

White is senior manager of the audit and business services department at Haines Watts. He joined the firm as an audit senior, after five years with Bishop Fleming in Plymouth and has worked his way up. Colleagues praise the way that as he has progressed through the firm he has helped improve systems. They point to his work on putting a paperless audit system in place. A two-time winner of the Best Auditor for SMEs at the FDs’ Excellence Awards, White is singled out for strong people skills. These mean he gets the most out of his staff as well as building close relationships with clients, with a particular forte for working with owner-managed businesses.

Ernestine Fu

20, associate, Alsop Louie partners
She’s a Mensa member and Stanford University student recently named by Forbes as “the youngest VC in Silicon Valley”. No wonder people are sitting up and paying attention. She is already a well-known part of the Silicon Valley tech scene and is an associate at Alsop Louie Partners. Fu plays a key role in helping the firm engage with the student tech entrepreneur scene and source investments. She hunts out fellow student entrepreneurs and puts them in touch with the money. In recognition of her achievements, Fu has already graced the cover of Forbes and been named an all-star student entrepreneur.

Ben Felton

30, CFO, Norman Broadbent

Ben FeltonAim-listed global executive search firm Norman Broadbent was purchased by Garner plc in 2008 and Felton has been instrumental in developing and shaping the business. He is described by Fiona Hotston-Moore, a partner at Reeves (where Felton trained) as being: “Diligent, thorough and highly skilled in managing the financial affairs of Norman Broadbent and its ever-growing group of companies.”

She adds that he is a “reliable and trustworthy professional with significant business acumen and entrepreneurial skills beyond his years, which makes him a significant asset”. Felton has plenty of commercial experience gained from both business and practice. Having trained and qualified at Reeves, he left to work as a financial controller at UBS Investment Bank before joining Norman Broadbent. He is widely tipped by those who meet him and work with him as a rising star.

David Hagger and Sonia Jenkins

23, PWC and 25, Deloitte

When ICAEW announced this year’s Professional Stage exam results, two names stood out. PwC trainee David Hagger and Sonia Jenkins at Deloitte each won two prizes, claiming first place in two categories. Hagger won the Watts prize and first place in the audit and assurance exams and the Spicer and Pegler prize for coming top in financial accounting, while Jenkins picked up the Knox prize and first place in financial reporting, and the Howitt prize and first place in financial management. Mark Protherough, ICAEW’s executive director learning and professional development, said: “The ACA exams are incredibly rigorous and require a lot of hard work and commitment to pass.

To achieve the highest mark is something of a coup but to do it in two separate papers is quite rare.”

Emmet Keating

33, principal, Catalyst

Keating is already a principal at Catalyst and not many would bet against further promotions. Having worked his way up from the ground floor, he has been involved in many of Catalyst’s major recent deals, including the sale of LBM for ISIS Equity. Last year he won the Young Finance Professional of the Year in Birmingham’s Young Professional Awards. His chief responsibilities include advising on management buyouts and fund raising, company acquisitions and disposals, while he is a key member of the firm’s technology sector team. He says he enjoys getting under the skin of a business “to understand what drives its market position, profitability and cash flow.”

Keating is a graduate of Manchester University, and qualified as a chartered accountant with Deloitte. Following a role as audit manager with the firm, focusing on technology and media clients, he joined Catalyst in 2006.

Vlad Khandros

24, director of market structure, UBS

His job title – a pretty unusual one for a Wall Street bank – is indicative of the power that Khandros already wields within the global finance community. He may only be 24 but he is regularly dubbed a veteran on Wall Street. He learned about interest rates aged six, read Forbes two years later and has worked full-time on Wall Street since he was 17. He took degrees in economics and political science at New Jersey’s Rutgers University. Spotting the potential for technology to disrupt trading, he was a prime mover in building Liquidnet’s award-winning dark pool (which allows large blocks of trading to happen off the public markets).  He then moved to UBS and that unusual job title.

Claire Mulholland

25, PwC

Mulholland is the product of PwC’s sponsored places on the Business Accounting and Finance degree at Newcastle University. She started the course in 2006 and worked with PwC during placements.

Claire MullhollandShe completed the ACA on graduation and started work at PwC’s Leeds office. Her star quality was already clear as she twice received highest marks within her PwC cohort, including in the final year. Earlier this year she won the Sharp Consultancy Young Accountant of the Year. Lee Sweeney, a regional director at Sharp who sat on the judging panel alongside Robert Seldon, from Deloitte, and Robert Butler, from Zenith, said: “When it came to the final panel interviews, Claire excelled in each assessment area, clearly demonstrated a commitment to furthering her career and shone as a brilliant example of the young talent that the accountancy profession is looking to attract and nurture.”

Clare Needham

36, commercial manager, Wilkinson Hardware Stores

Just last month Needham, who is commercial manager at Worksop-based discount retailer Wilkinson Hardware Stores, lifted the FD of the Future award at the FDs’ Excellence Awards. She trained with KPMG as an auditor but after qualifying moved in-house with Northern Foods, where over five years she did everything from internal audit to working on M&A and defence planning. In 2009 she joined Wilkinson and has helped the company succeed during a tough retail environment.

The Awards judges said: “Clare is full of character, with great self awareness. She has emotional intelligence and IQ. She has a breadth of skills and understands the business drivers. She is committed to doing business in an ethical way and doing things right.” They added that she understands the need to create and develop successful and sustainable businesses where people love to work. “She is a well-rounded individual with the capacity to be a FTSE 250 FD. She has the rare combination of compassion and steel.”

Hayleigh Richards

24, Baker Tilly

Richards works within Baker Tilly’s accounting and business advisory team in Guildford. Stuart Parkinson, senior manager in Baker Tilly’s tax and accounting team, says they already see Richards as a star. Her accountancy career started in 2007 with Menzies, where she dealt mainly with personal tax matters. 

She showed up to see Warren Buffett in Omaha with a bushel of sweetcorn and some tomatoes as a gift. It did the trick

Parkinson says: “We were very lucky to recruit Hayleigh into our team in 2011. She is part-qualified and still studying, but her experience dealing with clients and their affairs is well ahead of the stage she has reached in her studies. She has started to develop sector specialisms and had exposure to financial reporting for a wide range of entity types.” The word from Baker Tilly is that Richards is on the fast-track to managerial grades, and she is taking on managerial responsibilities within her department, although the firm is keen to add she gets plenty of suitable mentoring and coaching.

Kevin Carter

25, partner, SV Angel

Kevin CarterOne of the youngest partners in Silicon Valley, Carter is an angel investor for technology venture capital firm SV Angel. He has been instrumental in helping the firm win deals such as eTacts and GroupMe. He graduated from Santa Clara University in 2009 with a degree in finance, gaining a reputation within the entrepreneur community in particular for work he did with the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, founding a mentoring programme. He was named the Outstanding Student Entrepreneur.

The world of start-up and tech finance is a relatively small one and Carter is already a big noise within it.

Nicola Roberts

34, tax partner, Deloitte

Roberts is seen by many as a poster child for the fact that success in a professional services firm doesn’t require a degree. And while the Big Four make much of their tie-ups with university degree courses, it is clear school leavers have played a major part in the profession for years. Roberts started as a post-A-level trainee accountant at PwC and worked her way up before joining Deloitte as a tax partner. Her main role is the hot area of providing tax advice to the world’s richest individuals.

Nicola Shearer

24, BDO

Shearer joined BDO straight from school and has progressed rapidly through the firm, taking her first senior role on audits at only 21 and completing her training to qualify as a chartered accountant. BDO bosses point to her enthusiasm and energy working with overseas clients as something that marks her out. She was fast-tracked to audit manager in March 2013 and already has a portfolio including two listed plantation clients, requiring trips to Malaysia and Indonesia, as well as responsibility for the Asia Pacific operations of a major worldwide media business, which takes her to the US, Australia and Singapore.

 Her BDO boss David Eagle says: “Nicola isn’t content with just delivering quality work to her clients, she has also played an active role in recruiting, counselling and mentoring members of staff, particularly those who have also joined straight from school. She is an example of how the school-leaver programme is a genuine alternative to graduate recruitment for the profession.”

James Syree

31, partner, Ballard Dale Syree Watson
James Syree
With a passion for technology, Syree is a partner at Ballard Dale Syree Watson and acts as CFO for dynamic early-stage companies such as biometric voice security solutions company VoiceVault and Push Technologies (where he’s also a partner). He trained with RSM Bentley Jennison in Bristol. After two years he joined Ballard Dale Syree Watson in January 2010. His expertise is focused on advising high-tech VC-backed clients, and he was named ICAEW’s West Midlands young accountant of the year 2011. He provides leadership across all financial aspects of the business.

Jennifer Williamson

31, Reeves

A rising star within Reeves, she is also very active in the local business community. She joined Reeves in 2004 and soon became one of its youngest partners. Based in Canterbury, she focused on developing entrepreneurial businesses, providing them with tax and strategic planning advice. But she also acts for local legal firms, estate agents, architects, surveyors and estate agents. She has arguably made her biggest mark mentoring businesses through the Local Business Accelerator scheme.

As company secretary she supports the community-interest company Canterbury City Partnership CIC and Present Budget, helping local businesses in Kent. Finally she supports schools through Enterprise Days (judging and teaching).

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