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ICAEW Regulatory Board appoints new Chair

Author: ICAEW

Published: 11 Oct 2021

The ICAEW Regulatory Board (IRB) has today announced the appointment of Jenny Watson CBE as its new lay chair.

It follows an extensive open and competitive recruitment process conducted by the Regulatory and Conduct Appointments Committee (RACAC), which is independent of the IRB.

Jenny brings a wealth of experience to the role having previously served as chair of the UK Electoral Commission (2009-16), the Independent Complaints Panel at the Portman Group (2013-20) and the Equal Opportunities Commission (2005-07). She also held non-executive roles at the Financial Reporting Council and Financial Ombudsman Service.

The IRB is an independent board responsible for oversight of ICAEW’s regulatory and disciplinary work, undertaken by the Professional Standards Department, to ensure it’s carried out in the public interest.

The board, which has parity of lay and Chartered Accountant members including the chair, was established to enhance the distinction between ICAEW’s representative and regulatory roles following an independent review of its regulatory governance in 2014.

Jenny will join the IRB on 1 November and replaces Michael Caplan QC who has held the role since the IRB was created in 2015.

Jenny Watson CBE, incoming chair of the IRB, said:

"I'm pleased to be taking up the role of Chair of the IRB. We already know that there is much change to come for those working in the fields of accountancy, audit and insolvency services in the future. I look forward to ensuring that the Board plays a key part in responding to this change and that, whatever the future brings, its work always keeps the public interest firmly at its heart." 

Duncan Wiggetts, Chief Officer, Professional Standards Department, ICAEW, said:

“Jenny joins us at a key point as the UK Government’s proposed reforms to audit, reporting and corporate governance and the forthcoming consultation regarding the insolvency regulatory framework have the potential to reshape the future role of regulation and the work of ICAEW and the IRB. I look forward to working with Jenny in her new role and would also like to thank Michael Caplan for his service over the last six years as the IRB’s first ever chair.”

More information about the IRB can be found here.


Notes to editors:

Jenny Watson CBE biography

Jenny has significant experience in regulation and the public interest, serving as both a chair and non-executive director. Her past chair roles include the Electoral Commission, the Independent Complaints Panel at the Portman Group, and the Equal Opportunities Commission, and recent non-executive roles including the Financial Reporting Council and the Financial Ombudsman Service.

Her current portfolio includes the chair role at GAMSTOP, and at the House of St Barnabas, (a social enterprise in London’s Soho) and she is a trustee of the Norfolk Community Foundation.

Regulatory & Conduct Appointments Committee

The Regulatory & Conduct Appointments Committee (RACAC) is responsible, under powers delegated to it by the ICAEW Regulatory Board (IRB), for dealing with all matters relating to the appointment, performance evaluations and remuneration of chairs and members of the IRB and the Professional Standards Committees and Reviewers of Complaints. The RACAC reports to the IRB on its activities but is independent of the IRB. The current chair of the RACAC is Sara Nathan OBE.

ICAEW’s role as an improvement regulator

We protect the public interest by making sure ICAEW’s firms, members, students and affiliates maintain the highest standards of professional competency and conduct.

ICAEW’s regulatory and disciplinary roles are separated from ICAEW’s other activities so that we can monitor, support or take steps to ensure change if standards are not met. These roles are carried out by the Professional Standards Department and overseen by the independent ICAEW Regulatory Board (IRB).

Our role is to:

  • authorise ICAEW firms, members and affiliates to undertake work regulated by law: audit, local audit, investment business, insolvency and probate;
  • support the highest professional standards in general accountancy practice through our Practice Assurance scheme;
  • provide robust anti-money laundering supervision and monitoring;
  • monitor ICAEW firms and insolvency practitioners to ensure they operate correctly and to the highest standards;
  • investigate complaints and hold ICAEW firms and members to account where they fall short of standards;
  • respond and comment on proposed changes to the law and regulation; and
  • educate through guidance and advice to help stakeholders comply with laws, regulations and professional standards.


There are more than 1.8m chartered accountants and students around the world and 186,500 of them are members and students of ICAEW. They are talented, ethical and committed professionals, which is why all of the top 100 Global Brands employ chartered accountants.