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31 Dec 08

The CA qualification attracts some of the brightest and best people into the accountancy profession. Robert Outram introduces a few of the up-and-coming stars of the CA world

by Robert Outram

Anna Coutts Donald, KPMG

Working with KPMG in London, Anna Coutts Donald’s current role involves “asset origination” for infrastructure funds across Europe, running a practised eye over large public sector assets as potential investments for the large investment funds that specialise in this sector.

She says: “Being a CA, I can analyse a company quickly and efficiently, and I’ll know if it’s what the clients want. The CA qualification gives you credibility in the marketplace.”

Anna did not start out as a number-cruncher, though. Her first role at KPMG was in marketing, but she felt her economic degree would be better put to use in the field of accountancy and tax. She studied for the ATT (tax technician) qualification before qualifying as a CA.

Anna’s tendency to volunteer for things got her involved with a government-commissioned project aimed at identifying and reducing the administrative burden of the UK’s tax and excise duty system. She says: “I was totally out of my depth, but I would hate to come into work and do the same old thing, day in and day out!”

Paul McCourt, Grant Thornton

Paul McCourt, from Northern Ireland, is one of Grant Thornton’s youngest audit directors. He trained with Coopers & Lybrand (now PricewaterhouseCoopers) in Glasgow and became a senior manager, moving on to Grant Thornton in 2007.

At PwC, Paul worked on the audits of some large businesses such as food industry group Devro, and retailer House of Fraser. He also took part in “hot reviews” (where the audit is still live) of audits for very large plcs such as Tesco and BT.

Paul says: “At Grant Thornton you get more of an opportunity to directly contribute to the success of your clients though the advice that you give.”

Paul’s clients include Famous Grouse producer Edrington and he is advising Glasgow’s St Enoch’s shopping centre on its £100m redevelopment.t

Nadim Ahmad, DTZ

DTZ is one of the “big four” global real estate advisers operating across Europe, the Middle East and Africa, Asia Pacific and the Americas.

Last November, Nadim was promoted to the post of financial director, northern Europe, having previously beenfinancial controller for the region.

As financial controller he managed revenue growth from €23m (£20m) to €85m (£74m). He was also interim finance director for DTZ in Russia.

Nadim trained as a CA with Ernst & Young in Glasgow before working in financial roles with print specialists Worldmark International and airport group BAA.

He has also been very active in voluntary work. He took a sabbatical year to work with children’s charity Barnardo’s in Europe and Asia, and he is an audit committee member for the United Nations Association UK.

In his spare time Nadim enjoys football, tennis, squash, pool, poker and chess.

Jill Arnold, RBS

Jill qualified as a CA at Arthur Andersen in 2001. After a spell at Grant Thornton, she joined the RBS structured finance team in 2006.

In 2007 Jill was admitted to the bank's Gold Programme, which aims to identify, support and develop the future leaders of RBS and offers them a four-year development programme

Jill won the Team Orientated award in the bank's 2008 Outstanding Achiever Awards. The judges said: “Jill made a significant contribution to the team achieving financial performance of 133 per cent over plan.

A highly motivated individual with a very strong can-do attitude, this winner has over the course of the year,shown a high level of commitment providing enthusiastic, support on a number of deals."

She has won a number of other internal awards. and took part in various sporting events throughout the year, with team RBS.

Kenny Stewart, RBS's head of structured finance in Scotland, says: “While Jill has undoubted technical strengths, she is also extremely motivated, committed and a real team player.”


Morven Campbell, Pricewaterhousecoopers

At 35, Morven is one of PWC’s youngest partners and jointly leads the firm’s UK treasury assurance practice. She has considerable experience in supporting clients in financial risk practices, reporting and

risk management services, with particular focus on treasury and trading environments. Morven is a member of the PwC global corporate treasury technical committee, specialising in interpretation of treasury and derivative activities within international financial reporting standards.

A qualified CA and member of the Association of Corporate Treasurers, other activities include advising organisations on liquidity risk management, developing financial risk management strategies and generating cost savings and efficiencies within the working capital cycle.

John Blair, Tenon

John has been a director of corporate finance with listed accountancy group Tenon in Glasgow since 2007.

He has been with Tenon since July 2002 and specialises in the provision of corporate finance to entrepreneurial and owner managed businesses. He has considerable experience of acquisitions, disposals, fund raising and due diligence and is lead advisor to a number of key clients.

John, 35, trained with Deloitte before joining Tenon. Recent deals have included Eastlake Group’s merger with Work Inc Group, Next Level’s acquisition of SANDF (Grangemouth) and Inverarity Vaults’ acquisition of Tim Morrison Fine Wines. It must have been fun celebrating that one!

Aaron Falls, Deloitte

Having recently won the title of Emerging Dealmaker of the Year, Edinburgh-based Aaron is assistant director in the firm’s corporate finance advisory team. He has worked on a number of high profile transactions, in a wide range of industry sectors, private, public sector and plc clients as well as buy-side, sell-side and fundraising roles. Picking up his Dealmaker award, he said: “An individual is only as good as the people around him.”

A graduate of the University of St Andrews, he started with Arthur Andersen before transferring to Deloitte and subsequently joining the firm’s M&A team.

Aaron recently ran the New York marathon.

Mark Burns, HBOS

Mark is head of finance, real estate and risk for the corporate division of HBOS.

He joined Bank of Scotland in 200 after spells with accountancy firms Scott & Paterson and Grant Thornton. Mark has held various roles across group finance, business banking and corporate. Within corporate he has had responsibility for consolidated management reporting, regulatory news service reporting and leading the annual planning exercise.

Last year Mark spent a month in India as part of the HBOS corporate social responsibility programme. Working and living in a traditional Indian lifestyle he helped a young solar powered lanterns company develop its business and strategic plans to help it to light the poorest homes in world. He says: “I was completely out of my comfort zone. That made the experience bigger and better than I could ever have imagined.”

Mark has played football for Spartans FC for the past 13 seasons including a couple of runs to the Scottish Cup fourth round.

Steven McKenzie, Acumen

Steven qualified in 1999 and spent five years abroad with a Big Four firm before moving into corporate finance. He then returned to the UK and general practice, starting at Acumen in 2007.

Steven recently became director of Acumen Accountants & Advisors, with responsibility for accounts and audit. He also heads the Edinburgh office, which he helped set up in 2007. Steven spreads his time between the Aberdeen and Edinburgh offices.

Acumen has over fifty staff in its Aberdeen, Peterhead and Edinburgh offices.

Steven is married with two children, enjoys spending time with his family, mountain biking, golf and, he says, “avoiding any form of DIY”.

Alistair Buchan, Johnston Carmichael

Being director of finance at an accountancy practice must be rather like having a doctor as your patient.

That’s the role of Alistair Buchan, whose seven years with Johnston Carmichael have taken him through the roles of assistant to the deputy chief executive, practice accountant and now director of finance.

On his second day at Johnston Carmichael, Alistair was asked to help with a project to implement a new practice management system after a colleague fell ill. This was the break that led him to specialise in internal finance.

Alistair is married with an 18-month-old daughter and his spare time interests include skiing, mountain biking and hill walking.

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