Tax boss leads race for top job at Deloitte

ONE of Deloitte’s lesser-known figures is in the running to become its top accountant as the search for a successor to the firm’s chief executive John Connolly reaches its final stages.

David Sproul was appointed UK head of tax at the big four firm in 2006 and is now being tipped for the top job at Deloitte when Connolly steps down next year. He is one of two candidates for the role, the other being Martin Eadon, who serves on the firm’s executive committee.

City A.M. understands Deloitte is about halfway through the recruitment process with Connolly’s successor due to be announced at the end of the month. The recruitment process sees the board taking “soundings” from its 700 partners over potential candidates for the role. That stage has been completed and both Sproul and Eadon must now make presentations to the board before a final vote of the firm’s partners takes place later in the month.

Connolly is due to step down in May having served three terms as chief executive over more than a decade. The firm is now second only to PricewaterhouseCoopers in terms of the revenue it generates and Connolly is credited with having transformed the fortunes of firm since becoming chief executive in 1998 tripling profits during his tenure.

He is currently Britain’s best-paid accountant with a remuneration deal worth around £5m annually.

Sproul joined Deloitte in 2002 becoming managing partner for the firm’s advisory and consultancy practice after its take over of Arthur Anderson. He later became managing partner for talent before becoming UK head of tax in 2006. He also serves as Deloitte’s managing partner for tax in Europe, the Middle East and Africa for parent company Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu.

Eadon is a managing director of Deloitte UK and a member of the Deloitte UK executive and board as well as a member of the Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu executive. He has been with Deloitte since 1980 and is a member of the UK Financial Reporting Review Panel.

DAVID SPROUL
HEAD OF UK TAX DELOITTE
David Sproul 51, has had a career spanning 30 years, starting at a small accountancy firm, Hays Allan, where he worked for four years before joining Arthur Andersen. He spent a large part of his career at Anderson, where he eventually led the firm’s UK Tax practice and then became managing partner of operations.

In 2002, Andersen was taken over by Deloitte with Sproul, who was by now second in command at the troubled firm, in the unenviable position of having to tell some 1,500 of the firm’s employees their jobs were at risk ahead of the takeover.

Later that year, he became managing partner for consulting and advisory services in the newly enlarged Deloitte UK, leading the consulting and financial advisory practice for two years before becoming head of talent and managing partner for tax in Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA). In his role as head of tax for the EMEA region, Sproul helped launch an international tax centre of excellence in Dubai last year.

Sproul’s position as one of the leading corporate tax specialists in the UK has added weight to the debate on the reform of the UK tax system, especially in terms of encouraging multinational businesses to remain in the UK. He has been quoted in the past as saying: “If you stand back and look at the UK economy, then it can’t be a good thing if the tax system is encouraging UK companies to leave, or non-UK companies not to establish in the UK.”