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Deloitte announces new Audit & Assurance leadership

Deloitte today announces the appointment of Paul Stephenson and Nikki Mitchell to the roles of UK and North and South Europe (NSE) Managing Partner for Audit & Assurance respectively.

Paul is a member of the firm’s UK and NSE Audit & Assurance executives and is a statutory audit partner to a number of entities in the financial services industry. With over 30 years’ of experience, he has held numerous management positions within the firm’s UK Audit & Assurance business, including as Chief Operating Officer, as well as leading the financial services audit and the graduate recruitment team. He also played an instrumental role in the launch of the firm’s school leaver programme in 2011. Paul has provided assurance services to multiple large, complex entities, and has a deep understanding of UK and international accounting and regulatory requirements, including Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX).

Nikki is also a statutory audit partner, as well as a vice chair, and has held a range of UK and NSE leadership roles. This includes setting up the firm’s pursuit team following mandatory audit rotation in 2015, and Audit & Assurance and firmwide client leader positions. Nikki is one of Deloitte’s most senior partners, with over 32 years’ of experience, including 21 as a partner. She specialises in leading large, global public company audits and transaction engagements across consumer, retail, manufacturing and support services businesses, and has led some of the firm’s most significant FTSE100 audit engagements. Nikki also provides development support for other partners, and plays a key role in Deloitte’s women in leadership programme.

Paul and Nikki succeed Stephen Griggs, who was appointed Managing Partner for Deloitte UK last month.

Richard Houston, Senior Partner and Chief Executive of Deloitte UK and NSE, said: “I’m pleased to announce the appointment of Paul and Nikki as leaders of our UK and NSE Audit & Assurance businesses. These two senior leaders have extensive industry and client experience, and are well respected by colleagues across the firm. With Stephen moving into our Managing Partner role, I have no doubt they are the right people to lead our Audit & Assurance business as it transforms in the months and years ahead. I would like to thank Stephen for his leadership of the business over the past five years.”

Last month Deloitte announced a number of key changes to the firm’s UK audit governance structures, in line with the Financial Reporting Council’s (FRC’s) principles for operational separation. This includes the establishment of an independent Audit Governance Board (AGB), with Margaret, Baroness Ford of Cunninghame OBE, to be appointed as independent non-executive chair, and with a majority of independent non-executive directors, including Jim Coyle, Almira Delibegovic-Broome QC and Shirley Garrood. Effective from 1 January 2021, the AGB will have responsibility for providing independent oversight of the UK audit practice.

Stephen Griggs, Managing Partner at Deloitte UK, added: “Paul and Nikki’s appointments come at a pivotal time for Deloitte, as we look towards the future of Audit & Assurance. We remain committed to audit reform and playing our role in delivering change that embraces audit quality, improves choice and restores trust. We believe that widespread change of our industry is important if we are to better meet society’s needs and expectations of the audit profession in the years ahead. I look forward to working with Paul and Nikki through this.”

The Audit & Assurance appointments coincide with several other key leadership changes at Deloitte, including Pauline Biddle as UK Client & Industries lead, Daniel Barlow as UK Head of Regions, and Nico Kleyn as NSE Healthcare and Life Sciences lead.

Deloitte UK announces audit governance changes

Deloitte UK today announces changes to its audit governance structure, with the establishment of an independent Audit Governance Board (AGB)*. Margaret, Baroness Ford of Cunninghame OBE, will be appointed as independent non-executive chair of the AGB when it is established, which will have a majority of independent non-executive directors, including Jim Coyle, Almira Delibegovic-Broome QC and Shirley Garrood, in addition to Baroness Ford.

Effective from 1 January 2021, the AGB will have responsibility for providing independent oversight of the UK audit practice, with a focus on the policies and procedures for improving audit quality and ensuring the Financial Reporting Council’s (FRC) objectives of, and desired outcomes for, operational separation are met.

The creation of the AGB is the initial phase of Deloitte UK’s implementation of the principles for operational separation set out by the FRC in July 2020.

Richard Houston, senior partner and chief executive of Deloitte UK, said: “We recognise the need to be more transparent about our audit business and demonstrate that audit quality remains our number one priority. Our governance changes are an important part of this, and we welcome the diverse and extensive experience and independent rigour these high calibre individuals will bring to the AGB and our audit business.

“The AGB is central to Deloitte UK’s new governance framework and a key step in the operational separation of our audit business from our wider firm. We continue liaising with the FRC on the best ways to implement further changes to our governance and reporting structures.”

Baroness Ford, incoming chair of Deloitte UK’s AGB, commented: “I am delighted to be joining Deloitte UK, one of the UK’s leading professional services firms, at what is a crucial time for the sector. It is clear that Deloitte UK recognises, and takes very seriously, its obligations around transparency, strong governance and the public interest, and I look forward to bringing my experience and insight to the firm.”

Stephen Griggs, current Deputy CEO and managing partner for audit & assurance and public policy at Deloitte UK, said: “We’ve been consistent in our support for audit reform, and remain committed to playing our role in delivering change that embraces audit quality, improves choice and restores trust.

“However, while governance changes to audit businesses are a key element of audit reform, they must also be considered alongside a wider package of change, including in areas such as corporate reporting, the role of directors, the evolution of the audit product and the regulatory environment in which we operate. Sweeping reform is needed if we are to better meet society’s needs and expectations of the audit profession in the years ahead.”

Alongside the establishment of the AGB and the independent non-executive appointments, Deloitte UK has also announced that Stephen Griggs will become managing partner for Deloitte UK.

Richard Houston added: “I am delighted to announce Stephen in this role, where he will be responsible for business performance, operations and public policy for Deloitte UK. We will work closely together as I remain the UK chief executive – with Stephen leading on all operational matters which, importantly, will include overseeing operational separation as part of audit market reforms. A successor for Stephen’s role as managing partner for audit & assurance will be in place by 1 October 2020.”

Finally, Deloitte UK will also establish a new Colleague Advisory Forum, in line with the Corporate Governance Code, to support engagement on governance. Made up of colleagues from a range of grades and parts of Deloitte UK, it will provide a more diverse perspective to the AGB and the firm’s UK Oversight Board (UKOB)*, to help inform decision-making.