PROFILE: JOHN GRIFFITH-JONES

 
Elizabeth Fournier
KPMG veteran John Griffith-Jones is leaving behind a career spent at the big four auditor to make a sideways leap into regulation – where he could end up supervising many of the financial clients he has worked with during his 38 years at the firm.

Griffith-Jones, who has twice sat on the judging panel for the annual City A.M. awards, started his career with KPMG in the audit department in 1975.

Eton-educated, he read economics at Cambridge prior to joining the firm, where he spent 11 years as an auditor before moving to the newly created corporate finance team, making partner in 1987 and moving gradually up to head the UK team, eventually becoming chair of the sector’s European network.

His management story began in 2002 when he was made chief executive of KPMG’s UK operations – a four-year term that ran until October 2006, when he became senior partner and chairman of KPMG UK.

As chief executive and then chair Griffith-Jones has led KPMG through two global recessions – as well as the increased scrutiny on audit firms following the fallout from the Enron accounting scandal in 2001.

In October 2007, his managerial responsibilities extended beyond the UK for the first time when he became joint chairman of KPMG Europe, and then again in 2008 when he was made chairman of KPMG EMA, encompassing Europe, Middle East, Africa and India.

When Griffith-Jones announced his decision to retire from KPMG from September this year, it sparked a hotly contested race for his job, with transactions and restructuring head Simon Collins eventually emerging victorious after a partnership vote. His successor will take on the mantle of representing the firm as it faces an ongoing investigation into market dominance among the so-called big four, as well as dealing with EU plans to reform the audit market across its 27 member states – the outcome of which has been delayed until the UK Competition Commission reports sometime in October.

By Elizabeth Fournier
A well-timed exit, one might think. But with just three-or-so months to learn the ropes from outgoing FSA chair Adair Turner, who will stay on until the transition to the new regulatory bodies is complete, Griffith-Jones’ new role is unlikely to leave him with time on his hands.