Making the Audit Market Work: the case for liberalising ownership.

Held on Tuesday, April 16, 2019


  • Paul Boyle

  • Jonathan Atack

  • Anthony Carey (Mazars)

  • Natasha Landell-Mills (Sarasin & Partners)



Paul Boyle has seen the audit world from both a regulator’s point of view, as former chief executive of the Financial Reporting Council, and that of a multinational company. He has long expressed concern about the dominance of the market for large company audits by the Big Four accountancy firms. This is not just because of the lack of choice facing audit committees but because the market would be sent reeling if one of these firms failed.

His big idea is to relax the rules that govern ownership of audit firms. If life-and-death businesses such as drug companies are not required to be owned by pharmacists, why should this restriction apply to audit firms? Opening the door to external capital would, at last, create the opportunity for new firms - or beefed up smaller ones - to mount a serious challenge for large-company audits.

The context for the report is the Competition and Markets Authority’s ‘update report’ on the market for statutory audit. Paul agrees with much of the CMA’s diagnosis, but his report is critical of some of the proposed remedies. He concludes that the proposals represent a substantial increase in the regulatory burdens on the UK’s largest public companies – just when their competitiveness could be more important than ever.

Paul Boyle OBE is Chairman of the whistleblowing charity, Protect, and a Non-Executive Director of Mogo Holdings and the Government Internal Audit Agency. After five years at the FRC, Paul served as Chief Internal Auditor at the insurer Aviva from 2010-17.

To lead the response to the report, we are delighted to welcome:

  • Jonathan Atack MBE, Investor Relations consultant and Senior Adviser to the UK’s Investor Forum. Jonathan has led investor relations teams at six international groups, including AkzoNobel, easyJet and Royal Bank of Scotland. He also served as CFO of ING Investment Management.

  • Anthony Carey, partner and head of the UK board practice at Mazars. Anthony is active in the firm’s Business For Good initiative and co-author of its Board Charter for Sustainable Success. He also plays a leading role in the Centre for Audit Committee and Investor Dialogue.

  • Natasha Landell-Mills, Partner and Head of Stewardship, Sarasin & Partners, and a member of the Accounting and Auditing Practices Committee of the International Corporate Governance Network. She was previously the Senior Analyst on ESG issues at the Universities Superannuation Scheme.

Doors will open at 6pm and the formal part of the proceedings will run from 6.30pm-8pm. Drinks and snacks will be served. If you (or a colleague) would like to come, please let us know by emailing or by calling the Centre on 020 7621 1056.


Sincerely yours,

Andrew Hilton