New London ICAEW Council members: Jeremy Willmont and Rhodri
A commitment to restoring trust in the accountancy profession is just one of the areas that new London members of ICAEW Council Jeremy Willmont and Rhodri Whitlock have in common, finds London Accountant.
In the third article in London Accountant’s series introducing the new London ICAEW Council members, Jeremy Willmont and Rhodri Whitlock explain their motivations behind standing in the elections. As well as sharing a concern over the future of the accountancy profession, and how a focus on clear communications can improve both the general public’s perception of the profession and also how members perceive their own institute, they share similar experiences in their own professional lives.
Willmont began his accountancy career as a trainee with Moore Stephens. A subsequent move into corporate recovery saw him eventually become a partner and head of restructuring in the firm. “I wanted to move from reviewing the books into a position where I could actually be more closely involved with businesses, stepping into new situations and finding order out of chaos,” he explains.
This work led Willmont to serve on the committee of the ICAEW Restructuring and Insolvency Community, as well as chairing the ICAEW Ethics Advisory Committee for the last two years. “There is a risk of accountants becoming irrelevant due to the threat of IT, but what IT can’t do is ethics,” he says. This, he says, is why people in business still view their accountant as their most trusted adviser. “People depend upon us, we need to guard the ACA qualification,” he says.
Whitlock, a corporate partner at Crowe, shares similar views, arguing that the pace of change in today’s business world has led to greater transparency but increased the expectations gap over what is expected of the audit profession.
“Business models are changing fundamentally,” says Whitlock. “Blockchain and Making Tax Digital are just two reasons why we are facing challenging but exciting times. ICAEW can stand up and demonstrate it is well-equipped to face these challenges. But as businesses have changed, so has the expectations gap, and we need to shoulder some responsibility for this.
“We need to have clarity of communication and put forward an objective argument that reinforces the quality and value of the profession,” he says. “ICAEW is already doing much to engage with its members, but we still need to reach out and find out what is keeping our members awake at night.”
Whitlock began his career with BDO before joining Kent firm Crane & Partners, where he became a partner at a relatively early stage in his career. He subsequently joined PKF, coming full circle when the firm merged with BDO in 2013. This is where Whitlock and Willmont share similar experiences, as Willmont’s firm, Moore Stephens LLP, earlier this year also merged with BDO.
Whitlock is now a corporate partner at Crowe, having joined the firm in January 2018, so their paths didn’t cross at BDO, but both value the practical experience gained from bringing together two firms. It is this practical experience, and commitment to restoring trust in the profession that they both hope to bring to ICAEW Council as they take up their positions at Chartered Accountants’ Hall this month.
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