Thursday 12 March 2020 1:48 pm

EY appoints audit chief to run UK and Ireland business

EY has picked its audit chief to run its UK business, continuing the Big Four’s woeful record of senior female leadership.

Hywel Ball, who has been with the firm for 35 years, was today appointed as UK and Ireland managing partner from 1 July, succeeding Steve Varley.

Ball’s selection over potential female candidates continues the Big Four’s terrible diversity track record.

None of KPMG, Deloitte, PwC or EY have ever been run by a female boss.

The firm’s UK chief operating officer Lynn Rattigan and global accounts committee chair Alison Kay were on the final shortlist of four candidates.

EY said today that Kay had been appointed to a newly created role as UK and Ireland managing partner for client service. She will be responsible for leading the overall market activity and service line delivery for EY in the UK and Ireland, the firm said.

The audit watchdog criticised the profession last autumn, saying more needed to be done to ensure that firms were not limiting the most senior roles to white men.

“The business case for improved diversity has been made and now it’s time for the audit and accountancy profession to take further positive action,” Sir Jon Thompson, the chief executive of the Financial Reporting Council, said in October.

Julie Teigland, EY’s EMEIA area managing partner, said: “This is an important time for the UK firm, given the regulatory changes around the audit profession and the need to support our clients through Brexit. Hywel brings the depth and breadth of experience we need right now. I have every confidence that, under Hywel and Alison’s leadership, the EY UK and Ireland business will continue to serve EY people, clients and the communities in which we operate.”

Ball said: “I am extremely proud to be leading the firm that I originally joined as an audit trainee. During my time here, I’ve seen EY change significantly and I am passionate about ensuring that we continue to develop to meet the needs of businesses and stakeholders and nurture the diverse talent needed to help our own business grow and thrive.”

Ball has been a partner at the firm for more than 25 years.

He is client partner for some of EY’s largest accounts in the UK and is the audit partner for several FTSE 50 companies.

EY said in January that Varley was stepping down as managing partner to take up a new role as global vice chair of sustainability. Varley will report to EY’s global chair and chief executive Carmine Di Sibio.