He will leave the department in the autumn after three years at the helm and take over from Stephen Haddrill who has been the FRC’s chief executive for the past 10 years.
Sir Jon found the decision to leave HMRC difficult, he admitted. “However, to have the opportunity to lead the Financial Reporting council as it turns into the ARGA, and to promote public trust in doing business in the UK at a point when we’re about to forge new alliances across the world, is too exciting to turn down.”
During his time at HMRC, he has overseen record-breaking increases in the collection of tax revenues, a narrowing of the tax gap and a recovery in customer service levels. Making Tax Digital saw the light of day on his watch and he has led on the preparations for Brexit.
He has also found himself at the centre of controversy more recently over HMRC’s approach to taxpayers, and in particular to those caught up in the controversial loan charge scandal.
Cabinet secretary and head of the Civil Service Sir Mark Sedwill described him as “an exceptional leader”, both as chief executive and first permanent secretary at HMRC and as head of the government’s operational delivery profession.
“Particular credit goes to Jon’s work to diversify the workforce: appointing a diverse and gender balanced executive committee, and opening HMRC’s first regional centre, with two more due this year,” he said.
Paul Aplin, ICAEW’s immediate past president, tax expert and a member of HMRC’s Administrative Burdens Advisory Board, thought that Thompson was a good choice. “Sir Jon has been at the helm at a particularly challenging time for HMRC, planning for Brexit and pushing forward with digitalisation.
“His willingness to speak candidly about the technical challenges of Brexit annoyed some but impressed others.
“Steering the transition from FRC to ARGA to restore public trust will require the same determination and the same willingness to ask difficult questions that those of us who have worked with him have come to expect.”
The advertisement for the FRC chief executive role stated that it was a looking for a leader to be responsible for achieving “the vision set out in [Sir John Kingman’s] independent review”. However, the new chief executive’s remuneration will be substantially less than Haddrill’s.
Sir Jon will receive £330,000 a year at ARGA, compared to the £423,691 Haddrill earned in the last financial year.