CIPFA member in move to lead Grant Thornton’s assurance work

5 Jul 18

Jon Roberts has taken over as head of assurance at Grant Thornton where he will oversee the strategic direction of all the firm’s audit work.

A CIPFA member and partner at Grant Thornton since 2007, Roberts assumed the new role on 1 July.

He has taken charge of the firm’s external-facing responsibilities for assurance, managing relationships with key stakeholders such as the Financial Reporting Council, National Audit Office, CIPFA and the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales.

He is also continuing to practise as an auditor to ensure he keeps in touch with day-to-day concerns, he said.

Chris Smith, a colleague with a corporate audit background, will oversee the firm’s assurance work in operational terms.

Roberts told PF this dual arrangement created “greater bandwidth as two heads are better than one”.

Bringing public and private sector expertise together to lead the firm’s assurance function, was a “best of both worlds solution”, he said.

“Grant Thornton has always valued the public sector and my role recognises the importance public sector assurance plays within the firm’s assurance community,” Roberts said.

“A lot of the largest, most complex audits in the firm are actually in the public sector.”

He highlighted that the audit profession was currently under a huge amount of scrutiny, with several high-profile probes into audit practice and regulation.

Sir John Kingman is undertaking a review of the role and powers of the FRC, while the Competitions and Market Authority is examining the audit market.

Meanwhile a review of audit, dubbed Project Flora, is planned, although The Times reported last week that it is struggling to find a chair.

Project Flora has the backing of the Audit Quality Forum and intends to ask some “blue sky” questions about what audit is for and how audits should be conducted.

Roberts said he would lead Grant Thornton’s response to these inquiries, while also “having an eye” to representing CIPFA and the wider public sector audit community.

“This is a significant moment for audit as a profession,” he said, with serious questions being asked about how audits can be made less backwards looking and compliance focused and instead face forward to provide more value to stakeholders.

Roberts also said his new position demonstrated the portability of the CIPFA qualification.

“I’m very proud to be the first CIPFA member that’s got such a role with one of the big accountancy firms,” he said.

  • Vivienne Russell

    Vivienne Russell is managing editor of Public Finance magazine and publicfinance.co.uk

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