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25 years young


Published: 29 Nov 2022

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The Corporate Finance Faculty celebrates its 25th anniversary this year. During this time, its membership and influence has grown. Senior corporate financiers give their thoughts on the reach of the faculty – and the challenges it faces

Lord Clement-Jones CBE  
Liberal Democrat peer, co-chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on AI and a member of the Corporate Finance Faculty board. He is a lawyer and consultant for the law firm DLA Piper and was its London managing partner 

“I joined the faculty board as a lawyer and policymaker involved in both corporate affairs and legislation. It has provided me with huge insight into business investment policies and practice in acquisitions, R&D, intellectual property, and infrastructure, at early or mature stage. It has also given me insight into the impact on the investment community of the many twists and turns of government policy, as well as a clear picture of the regulations or incentives realistically needed to stimulate growth. 

“I convened a faculty working group, which produced a report on the implications for investment of new technology – in particular artificial intelligence (AI), the application of AI to investment processes and the corporate governance needed for its adoption. The greatest potential for the more widespread application of AI in the deal process is variously in origination, company valuation, due diligence and all-important post-transaction integration. We recommended that corporate finance practitioners adopt a principles-based approach taking into account the ethical codes and protocols that have already been developed.  

“Practical briefing and assistance to government and legislators from the faculty is invaluable in giving an insight into how best to target legislation and regulation without deterring investment.” 

Lucy Stapleton  
Partner and UK deals leader at PwC, where she has worked for 29 years and qualified as an ACA 

“The faculty plays an important role in developing the skills and knowledge of our next generation of corporate financiers in relation both to learning and to networking. Together, the faculty’s technical guides and magazine cover a vast range of relevant topics. Having this level of high-quality literature on offer to individuals as they are looking to build their knowledge and skills is very valuable. London and regional networking events organised by ICAEW and the faculty also allow individuals to build their networks and relationships across the industry and with other intermediaries, which is fundamental to building a successful career in corporate finance. 

“The more relevant the content that the faculty can author, sponsor and promote, the more engagement the faculty will receive from its members and their organisations. Deal professionals are continually looking to find new ways of adding value to their clients and transactions. The more thought leadership and communications the faculty can produce that support emerging areas of advice (such as value creation services and data insights and analytics), the more engagement it will receive. 

“As I look to the future and the careers that individuals aspire to build across our deals practice, the more I think it is necessary that the qualifications they receive, particularly the ACA, are as relevant as possible in relation to the skills and technical knowledge required for advising on deals.” 

Yvette Allen  
Partner at Deloitte, heading up the firm’s transaction services technical team. She is chair of the faculty’s technical committee and has been a member of the faculty board since 2019 

“The technical committee has issued more than 100 representations over the years. We issue representations where there are important points to make – recent contributions that stand out include our work in relation to the National Security and Investment Act and, in 2019, the Financial Reporting Council’s revised ethical standard in relation to capital markets transactions.  

“I think sustainability in all its forms will be a major theme in the coming years. In the next year or two we are also likely to see major revisions to capital markets rules and regulations – the prospectus regulations and the primary listing regime. 

“Corporate Finance Faculty staff are all so committed to serving the faculty and its members. And the best thing about the technical committee is the willingness of members from diverse – and in some cases competing – organisations to come together in a non-partisan way, bringing the best judgement and truly deep experience for the benefit of the market and to serve the public interest.  

“Bringing the profession together to engage with changes to rules, regulations and laws results in much more insightful contributions than if each organisation worked independently.” 

Ian Hart  
Director general at the Takeover Panel since 2021. He was previously co-chair of UK investment banking at UBS, managing director of UK investment banking at Morgan Stanley and head of European M&A at Citi 

“The Corporate Finance Faculty is always a key respondent when the Takeover Panel’s Code Committee consults with market participants on proposed rule changes, which we do on a regular basis. The faculty is also an important voice whenever the Panel Executive is asked by the Code Committee to undertake a pre-consultation. 

“We also regard the faculty’s guidance on corporate finance topics relevant to takeovers as a valuable resource for the market. For example, its guidance for preparers of prospective financial information is a helpful document for those who have to navigate the requirements of the Takeover Code in this area.” 

Michael Izza  ICAEW chief executive since 2006 

“The Corporate Finance Faculty plays a significant role in shaping regulations which have a direct impact on the work of many ICAEW members. Take its recent contribution to the UK government’s major consultation about its National Security and Investment Bill. At both Green and White Paper stages the faculty helped the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) understand the practical concerns of our members and ensure the regulations were workable for businesses and for the City. The resulting legislation seems to have struck the correct balance between making foreign investment subject to greater scrutiny and challenge, while also ensuring the UK remains one of the world’s best places to do business. 

“David Petrie, ICAEW head of corporate finance, was singled out by the minister, Lord Callanan, for the critical role he has played in the drafting of the legislation since 2017. He continues to sit on an expert advisory group, which has been instrumental in developing much of the guidance relating to the act. The faculty has also been a significant contributor to ICAEW’s response to the wide-ranging BEIS consultation on audit and corporate governance. Lord Willetts recently commended the faculty for helping to keep the accountancy profession relevant on big issues such as net zero, national security and innovation investment.  

“Having in-house resource gives us the expertise and credibility to effectively influence policy development and respond to consultations from organisations, governments, regulators and other professional bodies around the world. It also ensures that we get a seat at the table: for example, ICAEW is part of the Business Finance Council, a forum for UK government to work with major lenders to ensure access to finance for SMEs. 

“Economies around the world are grappling with a global energy crisis. The corporate finance community will have a key role to play in helping companies survive, evolve and recover – just like they did during the pandemic – as well as helping unlock growth across our economy. 

“The other enduring challenge is climate change. Against a backdrop of economic turmoil, businesses must continue to innovate and invest in the transition towards a net-zero economy. The faculty is focused on supporting our members to navigate these challenges.” 

Jon Moulton  
Chair of finnCap and a long-standing member of the faculty board and its technical committee. He is the chairman of the Better Capital fund and is the former managing partner of Alchemy Partners 

“The faculty has just kept on growing. It’s been either very lucky or very clever at hiring, as it has always had great staff. Output on technical issues and lobbying of governments has made a very real difference for our members and the economy. Its founders should be proud of what has been achieved. Its scale, extension to non-ICAEW members and its geography are all far beyond the hopes of the early founders. Getting further traction overseas is a difficult, but attractive aim. 

“The faculty provides information, market opportunities and technical material that are often of great value to those members. Corporate Financier magazine is a very good and effective communication medium for our members. 

“Even an old dog like me can see the benefits of diversity of membership of the faculty. Having lawyers, deal brokers, investment managers and others with adjacent and overlapping skills adds to our credibility and competence. As things become ever more complex, you need those differing skills to be working together and the faculty has really helped that.” 

Chris Hunt 
Head of M&A at Rentokil Initial, where he has worked for 11 years. He has been a member of the Corporate Finance Faculty board for four years. Before Rentokil he worked for AstraZeneca, and prior to that spent 13 years in transaction services with KPMG, where he also trained as an ACA 

“My role at Rentokil is to maximise value for our business and shareholders, and membership of the faculty is important because seeking diversity and breadth in views, beliefs and opinions as to how best achieve that is an important part of my decision-making. 

“Representation from a broad church is important. As a ‘real world practitioner’, if you like, my input focuses on practical application and simplifying complexities where possible. 

“The tsunami of macro-factors on the horizon means we are operating in especially challenging times, but businesses only stay in business by adapting to challenges, finding ways to make products or services of higher quality, delivered more quickly, and becoming more sustainable or less expensive. Combining or dividing business assets is integral to adapting, and quality, pragmatic advice on how to do so, and how M&A fits into that, is vital.” 

Chris Watt  
Managing partner at mid-market private equity firm, ECI Partners, which he joined in 1999 from Arthur Andersen, where he trained as an ACA. He has been a member of the Corporate Finance Faculty board since 2020 

“There’s a deals community that spans not just corporate finance – there’s a legal network, a finance provider and investor network. The faculty brings all that together, and it’s possibly the most important such forum, particularly around mid-market deal activity. That’s very useful for members to tap into. 

“As a board member, there’s a really interesting range of senior people on the board, bringing in different perspectives, from small firms to big advisers, different investors – buy-out and venture – and we have legal, public market and some trade M&A input. This diverse group gives a temperature test to what’s going on in the market, in terms of the economy and deals, environment and regulation, but also how different businesses respond to the challenges. 

“As the regulatory environment evolves, as the macro-environment goes through its ups and downs, or when considering policy matters, there’s quite a broad range of perspectives to draw upon. As an investor, sometimes topics will be of direct relevance and we can give input. Sometimes it might be more of a technical or legal nature. But whatever the situation, there will be different members who can bring their voice to it. That breadth is important in being able to respond to different factors that might impact on the corporate finance community.” 

“It gives us early visibility of things that might not have been on our radar until much later. But not only does it give you that forewarning, it also gives you the ability to input and shape, and ensure that when these things do come to us, they are more workable and practical. 

“The challenge, as the community evolves, is to remain relevant. Rooted in ICAEW is the fact that reaching out beyond accountants more broadly is important. To that end, communications, events, Corporate Financier magazine and promotion of the faculty as a content-rich source of information is important in helping ICAEW broaden its reach.” 

Lord Leigh of Hurley 
Helped set up ICAEW’s Corporate Finance Faculty in 1997 and was chairman from 2000 to 2004. Having qualified as an ACA with Deloitte, he co-founded Cavendish Corporate Finance, which has since merged with finnCap; he is senior partner at finnCap Cavendish. He is a Conservative peer and chairman of the Finance Bill sub-committee 

“When we set up the faculty, the alternative was that corporate finance remained a subcommittee of the Faculty of Finance and Management. We persuaded ICAEW otherwise and quickly got to some 3,000 members. The faculty is now the largest network for corporate finance and, as a result, able to represent the views of deal advisers widely. It’s a great network, run by members, for members. 

“The faculty was immediately able to extend ICAEW’s influence: I took on ICAEW’s position of an alternate to the president on the Takeover Panel, bringing my takeover experience. At the start, conflicts of interest were a big issue, with different views across the membership between big and small firms, but the faculty and I, as chairman, represented all of them. It showed how we could be a forum for healthy debate among corporate financiers. Now conflict of interest, and separating audit practices from non-audit business, is high on the agenda again. Having input from a broad range of the M&A advisory community makes us more powerful, increases our gravitas, and will prove invaluable in that debate.” 

“The faculty has reinforced the value of ICAEW’s chartered accountancy qualification as a route to becoming a corporate financier. The exams and training taught me fundamental finance skills that are the foundations of a good M&A adviser, and still relevant today.”  

Mo Merali 
Chair of the Corporate Finance Faculty since 2018, he is head of transaction services and private equity at Grant Thornton, where he has worked for 30 years, qualifying as an ACA and becoming partner in 2001 

“Through its 25-year existence, the influence and power of the faculty has grown in many areas. The ability to bring together senior people from different organisations, working in different areas and disciplines related to transactions and financing, with varied knowledge, experience, influence and understanding, means the faculty has created the largest M&A ecosystem, as part of ICAEW.  

“The faculty brings deal advisers together with investors, corporates and those with regulatory or political or broader economic influence. That power to convene has grown alongside the breadth of the faculty board and the wider membership, and with that the issues we have tackled and continue to tackle. 

“Naturally, people start with partisan views, but we have established a way of having robust, respectful and rounded debate that means self-interest is secondary as we reach our views on what is best for all stakeholders. 

“The continuous development of the faculty centres on our three themes: the future advisory professional, innovation and sustainability, and global investment. I think these themes are even more relevant now. Post-Brexit and post-COVID-19, we need to focus on innovation and the global marketplace. The services demanded of advisers is ever-changing thanks to advances in technology and, of course, the changing economic climate. Advisers and the faculty will evolve to remain relevant – we have a proven track record of doing just that.” 

Chris Lowe 
Capital and debt advisory partner at EY and member of the Corporate Finance Faculty board 

“I feel the faculty is a great platform to promote the rapidly evolving perimeter of a corporate finance career. The strongest corporate financiers will continue to disrupt how things are done, innovate through data and wider technologies, structure new capital solutions, team differently and form alliances. Buyers of corporate finance services need to be aware of how things change and what the relevance is to their own business models. There is much to do here and ICAEW can and should be an amplifier.”  

Selina Sagayam 
Head of transactional practice development in Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher’s London office and member of the Corporate Finance Faculty board 

“Being part of the Corporate Finance Faculty’s network is truly invaluable. As a transactional lawyer typically leading on global public M&A or capital market transactions, it is essential to have a deep understanding of market practice, regulation and approach across all of the key elements of a transaction – from financial reporting, to financing, to investment strategy, valuations and specialist reports. The corporate finance faculty brings advisers, investors and principals across these key elements together. 

“The legal perspective is key to ensuring that ICAEW representations are both ‘market-sound’ and ‘regulatory-sound’. There are complicated national and international legal implications, which ICAEW should be mindful of when making its representations. Being able to either reference and/or contextualise these developments when it makes its representations adds weight to ICAEW’s responses. 

“By way of example, the liability regimes for corporates, asset owners, asset managers and advisers is an area of development in a number of jurisdictions, both in the regulated and non-regulated sectors, for public and private companies and with respect to transactions and compliance and reporting. Understanding how these developments do, or may, play out in the context of corporate finance advisory work can be key in providing meaningful feedback on consultations, in particular where ICAEW is suggesting alternative solutions or approaches, or highlighting possible risks with new regulation and legislation. 

“The other benefit of having input from a broader church of advisers including lawyers is that a number of us also participate and sit on other industry and practice advisory groups or boards and are able to bring the insights from these different forums, where appropriate to ICAEW. 

“There have been many consultations over the years, more recently, including in relation to the reform of the UK capital markets, the UK’s new FDI regime and all UK public M&A consultation. There will be more developments in the context of UK capital markets to come and I look forward to contributing to these with the faculty.” 

First published in Corporate Financier, Issue 247, November 2022