As mergers and acquisitions boom, Jon Moulton says now is the time for the corporate finance faculty to expand its influence and go even further.
Regular readers of my production – a tiny but highly regarded group – as well as even occasional readers, will be fully aware of my willingness to criticize things. But, for once, I’m just going to remind all of us of some of the good things we have.
Perhaps, above all, we should be grateful for a system of government that generates an ever-increasing body of regulation and legislation. This ensures ever deeper knowledge of more and more material, which means that we can get good compensation for our intelligence and endless education and re-education, as we help clients overcome the pitfalls that constantly arise.
A collective voice
This ever-growing collection of knowledge and experience has resulted in the need for a professional body that provides a center of excellence and a voice for the industry. This was born out of the development of the accounting profession of M&A specialists, starting in the late 1970s and growing stronger since. I was a manager in one of the first corporate finance units in 1979 – the technical base was tiny compared to today’s world, but the work was rewarding. Fortunately, it remains interesting and trying for professionals.
The Faculty of Corporate Finance ensures a strong representation of its members, many of whom come from outside the accounting world, which adds very welcome specialist skills. Membership momentum is strong, with more than 30,000 chartered accountants working in our field. For large accounting firms, transactional work is their third largest generator of fees behind audit and taxation.
The faculty has a board of directors of exceptional quality, with much of the industry represented at the CEO level. The meetings are efficient and well attended – I know that because I join them and you know, I would say the opposite if it wasn’t true.
Our highly knowledgeable and hardworking management team is busy responding to (sadly endless) government proposals, requiring the rapid mobilization of members with the expertise to respond in a reasonable and timely manner. A lot of garbage never arrives in the law book because of our interventions and our lobbying. Typically, some form of consultation requires a response every month, often more. You would be really surprised by the volumes.
Examples over the past year include a huge push on the National Security and Investment Law, where intense interventions at ministerial and parliamentary levels have succeeded in making the proposals much more practical in scope and application. .
The faculty has forged strong and constructive links with the Houses of Parliament, as well as with the ministries. This is an ongoing effort given the routine changes of ministers and officials. We also clearly influenced Lord Hill’s review of listed companies. The work on access to finance has also impressed, where tremendous efforts have produced very useful material, affecting the design and operation of government programs, which have mushroomed during the pandemic.
The Business Finance Guide publication is widely acclaimed. The Corporate Finance qualification is valuable and well managed. The faculty provides excellent and up-to-date technical guidance of a very high quality. For example, the imminent publication of a comprehensive guide on public-to-private comes at a very opportune time. She also produces this magazine which in my opinion is much better and more useful read than other trade publications. Its printed format remains popular and has been particularly well received during lockdowns.
As business returns to some normalcy and mergers and acquisitions demonstrate their ability to spur growth and innovation, the restructuring proposed at ICAEW is both a threat and an opportunity for the faculty, which is well deserved. an important place at the upper table. At the time of writing, it appears the faculty is losing focus. It’s totally in the wrong direction. It deserves better access to funding and a higher priority to keep pace with the needs of members – many of whom are not accountants – across the world. We have, and should want to keep, a large organization.
About the Author
Jon Moulton is a member of the CF and a member of the Institute for Turnaround Professionals. Jon has a long history of turnarounds, having invested in it for 30 years and with considerable success. Jon is currently Chairman of FinnCap, the leading AIM brokerage firm, The International Stock Exchange, and Anti-Microbial Research Limited. He also chairs the Better Capital and Greensphere funds, an alternative energy infrastructure fund.
He writes, broadcasts and speaks regularly on corporate finance and financial matters. Jon is also Director of The Center for Policy Studies think tank and Honorary Fellow of University College London.