Monday 11 October 2021 1:25 pm

Jenny Watson: New chair of UK accounting regulatory board wants to be a driver of change

Jenny Watson CBE, newly appointed as the chair to the regulatory board of the UK body of chartered accountants, the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW), is a woman on a mission: the former chair of the Electoral Commission wants to be a driver of change.

“We already know that there is much change to come for those working in the fields of accountancy, audit and insolvency services in the future,” Watson said today.

“I look forward to ensuring that the Board plays a key part in responding to this change and that, whatever the future brings, its work always keeps the public interest firmly at its heart.” 

Watson, who was chair of the UK Electoral Commission for seven years until 2016, will join the board of the ICAEW Regulatory Board (IRB), an independent body which oversees the regulatory and disciplinary work of the ICAEW and ensures that it is in the public interest, on 1 November.

Watson will replace Michael Caplan QC, who has acted as chair since the regulatory board was founded in 2015 following an independent review of the ICAEW regulatory governance.

She previously held non-executive roles at the Financial Reporting Council and Financial Ombudsman Service.

Commenting on the timing of the appointment, the chief officer of the professional standards department at ICAEW, Duncan Wiggets said: “Jenny joins us at a key point as the UK Government’s proposed reforms to audit, reporting and corporate governance and the forthcoming consultation regarding the insolvency regulatory framework have the potential to reshape the future role of regulation and the work of ICAEW and the IRB.”

IRB has previously responded to the government’s ‘Restoring trust in audit and corporate governance’ review to say that while it welcomed many of the proposals, it still harboured concerns that the report did not sufficiently recognise the IRB’s role in providing independent oversight of the ICAEW.