December 18, 2018

Grant Thornton U.K. Gets a New CEO

Good morning/afternooon, gang. We have some news to share from across the pond, as Grant Thornton has appointed a new CEO to replace Sacha Romanovitch.

Dunckley has been around Grant Thornton for a while, starting his career at the firm in 1998, according to a press release.

His most recent role was on the Strategic Leadership Team, with responsibility for growing the firm’s presence in London with mid-market businesses. These currently represent around 60% of the firm’s clients, with Grant Thornton acquiring more mid-market customers in 2017/18 than any previous year. Prior to this he led the Transactions Advisory business in London.

Dunckley became a partner in Grant Thornton’s restructuring team in 2006 and has served as the global head of recovery and reorganization for Grant Thornton’s international network, according to his LinkedIn profile.

The Times reported in late October that Dunckley was the favorite to succeed Romanovitch as CEO, and according to today’s City A.M. in London, Grant Thornton’s 200 partners were overwhelmingly in favor of Dunckley’s appointment to the role.

Sacha Romanovitch

Romanovitch, who became the first female chief executive of a major U.K. accounting firm in late 2014, announced on Oct. 15 that she was not going to seek a second term as Grant Thornton’s CEO, after a small group of partners went public with criticisms of her leadership style and the firm’s performance.

An anonymous memo, which was sent to several media outlets in September and said it represented the views of 15 partners or directors at Grant Thornton, said Romanovitch was pushing a “socialist agenda” and had instilled a “culture of fear” at the firm where there are severe repercussions for speaking out. The memo also said the firm was “out of control” and has “no focus on profitability.”

In its most recent financial results, Grant Thornton reported post-tax profits for 2017 up 10.3% to £75 million and average distributable profit per partner up nearly 7% to £407,000, according to Economia.

However, overall revenue is down by 6.4% from £534 million to £500 million, as the U.K.’s fifth-largest accounting firm has reshaped its client portfolio, Economia stated.

After taking over as CEO, Romanovitch repositioned Grant Thornton to focus on “profits with purpose,” which meant dropping unsavory clients in an attempt to grow sustainably. She also put in place a “shared enterprise” model—a huge departure from the usual partner-owned and run structure of professional services firms—in which all of Grant Thornton U.K.’s 4,500 employees would have a say and a stake in how the firm is operated.

Today’s press release announcing Dunckley’s appointment as CEO said the shared enterprise approach will continue.

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