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Big Four bigwigs awarded New Year gongs


The chairs of KPMG and Deloitte were recognised in the New Year’s honours list as Members of the Order of the British Empire (OBEs).

4th Jan 2022
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Bina Mehta, the chair of KPMG, and Nick Owen, who left Deloitte last year, were the two biggest accounting names to receive a 2022 New Year's honour, in a list that also included a handful of gongs for HMRC and Treasury grandees for their efforts in the Covid-19 response. 

KPMG chair

Bina Mehta became the first female chair of KPMG in February 2021. She was hastily appointed in the sudden departure of her predecessor Bill Michael after he allegedly called unconscious bias “complete crap” in an online meeting where he told staff during the peak of the pandemic to “stop moaning” and to stop “playing the victim card”.

KPMG confirmed in November that Mehta will continue as chair of KPMG until 2024, when she will hand over the role to Jon Holt, the former head of audit who was selected as the next CEO ahead of her in April last year. 

Mehta was given the OBE for services to trade and investments in the UK and female entrepreneurs. 

Deloitte chair

Nick Owen was the other Big Four chief to feature in the list. Owen stepped down as chair of Deloitte in May 2021 after six years in the position. The former Deloitte chair was awarded an OBE for services to the professional services sector. 

While Owen’s stewardship of Deloitte saw bumper profits for the firm and its partners and the decoupling of its audit function, it also fell short in its audit of car dealership Lookers and the UK software firm Autonomy.

With others recognised in this list for their role in the Covid response, it’s also worth noting Deloitte’s role in the UK government’s £37bn Test and Trace programme, where it was even tasked to draft responses to parliamentary questions about how the scheme was progressing.

From knighthood to the FRC

Another boardroom regular to gain recognition was Jan du Plessis. It’s been quite the Christmas for the former non-executive chairman of BT Group. Days before Christmas, he was put forward as the government’s preferred candidate to become chair of the Financial Reporting Council and then gained a knighthood in the New Year’s honours list. 

Du Plessis has held non-executive director roles for the past 17 years at FTSE groups such as BT, Rio Tinto and SAB Miller and household names Marks & Spencers and Lloyds Bank. 

Treasury and HMRC

As often is the case with the New Year’s honours, a raft of gongs this year were bestowed to civil servants from HMRC and the Treasury for public service. 

With HMRC and the Treasury juggling the pandemic and also untangling the Brexit negotiations, the honours list was a chance to award advisers and directors on the frontlines.  They included:

  • Elizabeth Russel, the director general of tax and welfare at the Treasury, received a Companions of the Order of the Bath for services to the Economy during Covid-19
  • David Raw, deputy director at theTreasury became a Commander of the Order of the British Empire for services to the Covid-19 response
  • Oliver Haydon, deputy director at the Treasury got an OBE for services to European negotiations 
  • Samantha Anderson, a senior policy adviser in pensions and savings tax at the Treasury received an OBE for public service
  • Mohammed Jakir Ahmed Jabbar, a customer services front line manager at HMRC became a medallists of the Order of the British Empire for services to HMRC and to diversity and inclusion
  • Robin Caley, a senior lawyer at HMRC got an OBE for services to tax and pandemic support.
  • Elizabeth Jane Whitaker, HMRC director of knowledge, analysis and information, got an OBE for services to the Covid-19 response.

NHS Wales director of finance Alan Brace was also honoured with an OBE for his efforts in the Covid-19 response.

Elsewhere, media mover and shaker Jeremy Mayhew received an OBE. He did time as an adviser to PwC's media practice during 2012-16, but originally trained as a BBC TV producer rather than an accountant.

Should any other accountants be included on our list? Comment below and let us know if we've missed anyone you know out.


Replies (10)

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By Hugo Fair
04th Jan 2022 13:48

"Definition of 'bigwig': If you refer to an important person as a bigwig, you are being somewhat disrespectful" ... from Collins English Dictionary.

Must try harder Richard, I nearly didn't spot the presumably intended disrespect! :=)

Otherwise words fail me ... presiding over audit failures (and more) still generates an OBE?

Thanks (3)
By Justin Bryant
04th Jan 2022 16:05

I have more respect for Blue Peter Gold Badge holders, as unlike this discredited honours system there seems not much corruption/hypocrisy etc. there.

Thanks (4)
Replying to Justin Bryant:
By Paul Crowley
05th Jan 2022 01:26

I only had the cooking ordinary badge
The Gold was really special in my watching days

Thanks (0)
By BrianL
05th Jan 2022 11:46

The list excluded Dido Harding - this time! So not everything is bad about the honours system.

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Replying to BrianL:
By Mike18
05th Jan 2022 13:16

Only a matter of time!

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Replying to BrianL:
By Hugo Fair
05th Jan 2022 14:34

She didn't need it ... as is already Baroness Harding of Winscombe (a Conservative life peer).

Thanks (1)
By Charlie Carne
05th Jan 2022 13:53

Per your title, OBE does not stand for '(Member of the) Order of the British Empire', but 'Officer of the Order of the British Empire'. And MBE stands for 'Member of the Order of the British Empire' (and not, as often erroneously thought, 'Member of the British Empire').

Thanks (0)
Replying to charliecarne:
By Justin Bryant
05th Jan 2022 14:22

Something must be out of Order there I guess.

Thanks (1)
Replying to charliecarne:
paddle steamer
05th Jan 2022 15:34

OBE stands for "Other [***]'s Efforts"
MBE "My Bloody Efforts"
CBE "Cunning [***]'s Efforts"
CMG "Call Me God"
KCMG "Kindly Call me God"
GCMG "God Calls Me God"

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By Paul Crowley
14th Jan 2022 14:36

Gongs for KPMG despite fraudulent matters coming to light?

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