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The Royal Standard outside Buckingham Palace| AccountingWEB | PwC chairman leads New Year's Honours list

PwC chairman leads New Year Honours list


The chairman of PwC is one of the notable luminaries from the accountancy profession to be awarded a gong in the New Year Honours list.

2nd Jan 2024
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Among the glitterati of Glastonbury Festival founder Michael Eavis, novelist Jilly Cooper and Wetherspoons head honcho Tim Martin, the accounting and tax sector was represented in the 2024 New Year Honours list with nods for a Big Four chief, a former Chancellor and a senior officer at HMRC.  

Kevin Ellis

Kevin Ellis, the chairman and senior partner of PwC, received a CBE in the annual gongs. He got the nod for his role in economic growth and driving social mobility in the firm. 

The recognition comes after the Big Four firm decided to drop the requirement for students to either attain a first or 2:1 degree for its graduate roles in an effort to open roles within the firm to students from a broader range of backgrounds, including those from lower-income households. 

The department for business and trade hailed the contribution Ellis has made to the growth of PwC, where the newly minted CBE has grown the company by more than a third to 30,211 after having his hand on the tiller since 2016. 

In a statement, Ellis expressed his gratitude for the recognition. “Throughout my almost four decades in the professional services sector, I’ve had the privilege to work with a vast range of businesses as well as the government, education and third sectors on initiatives that champion UK prosperity, social mobility, skills and regional impact. This recognition inspires me further.”

Ellis follows in the footsteps of his Big Four cohorts in making the New Year Honours list. The 2022 New Year honours list, for example, included an OBE for KPMG chair Bina Mehta and an OBE for Nick Owen, the former chair of Deloitte. 

While PwC has grown under Ellis’s stewardship, it has also faced some challenges, too. PwC’s recent annual accounts reported revenue increasing by 16%, as the Big Four firm has also announced a cut of around 600 jobs. Meanwhile, PwC, like the other Big Four firms, has fended off criticisms about their audits: last year, PwC was sanctioned by the Financial Reporting Council (FRC) for failings in the audits of Babcock, BT group and Eddie Stobart.  

Sajid Javid

Sajid Javid, the former Chancellor, was knighted. Javid was Chancellor for only seven months, until he resigned a month before the Budget following a rumoured dispute with Number 10. Javid handed the keys to his then chief secretary to the Treasury, Rishi Sunak. 

Sir Sajid never got to deliver a Budget during his tenure as Chancellor, but he eventually returned to the cabinet as the health secretary. Javid’s former non-dom status was also the subject of controversy during the first Conservative leadership contest in the summer of 2022. Javid held the non-dom status for six years while he was an investment banker and worked in Singapore. He gave up the status in 2009 when he returned to the UK and a year later he became a member of Parliament. 

Javid entered the race to be Conservative leader with a pledge to cut corporation tax to 15% and scrap the health and social care levy. 

Catriona Campbell

Catriona Campbell, EY’s chief technology and innovation leader, was another representative from the Big Four to receive an honour. Campbell was named an MBE for her services to technology and innovation. 

She has led the Big Four firm’s development of artificial intelligence (AI) services in the UK and has also worked with clients and industry leaders in getting to grips with new technologies. 

As the AI hype train gathered speed in 2023, Campbell was at the forefront of the development, authoring the book AI by Design and chairing the Scottish AI Alliance, which supports the development and adoption of AI in Scotland. She previously founded an experience design start-up in 2001, which was acquired by EY in 2015 and rebranded EY-Seren. 

“I’ve spent over 20 years working in the technology sector and have had the privilege of working with some fantastic colleagues, clients and their teams on the development and implementation of emerging technologies such as AI. To be awarded an MBE in recognition of this work is a tremendous honour and one of the highlights of my career so far,” she said. 

Civil servants

As is customary for the New Year Honours list, civil servants from HMRC and the Treasury were acknowledged for their commitment to public service. 

Yvonne Rawsthorne was the only representative from HMRC to make the list this year. Rawsthorne, who works as the operational readiness senior officer at the tax authority, was appointed an OBE. 

According to her LinkedIn profile, Rawsthorne has worked at the Revenue for more than 21 years, starting off as a compliance officer. After holding that position for close to a decade, she then took on roles such as a test analyst, technical specialist and project manager before moving into her current role of senior officer. 

Rawsthorne is tasked with upholding customer service levels with a shrinking workforce.   

Jonathan Donaghy, the deputy director of customs at the Treasury, also became an OBE. He has served as the deputy director, customs at the Treasury for four and a half years. He had previously held the head of devolved countries spending at the Treasury. 


Joanna Swash, the CEO of Moneypenny, became an OBE. She has led the outsourced communications provider since November 2018, employing over 1,200 staff to handle customer communications.  

She has been with the company, where she has also held the commercial director and managing director positions, for over 19 years. 

The group chief executive officer was appointed an OBE for services to the economy. Moneypenny is one of the latest vendors to sign up to exhibit at the Festival of Accounting & Bookkeeping at the NEC arena in Birmingham on 13 and 14 March. 


Replies (7)

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By Open all hours
02nd Jan 2024 15:49

Paula Anne Vennells continues to hold a CBE.
A CMC (corporate manslaughter charge) would be nearer the mark.

Thanks (4)
By FactChecker
02nd Jan 2024 19:49

"Ellis has .. (had) .. his hand on the tiller since 2016."
Does anyone remember anything particularly newsworthy about PWC during those 8 years (apart from the bad headlines which weren't solely restricted to tales of incompetence and lax morality)?

My granny's MBE (for 5 years, as a civilian on a Mediterranean island during WWII, of treating the wounded and raising funds to open better medical/rehabilitation facilities) embarrassed her - but I can't imagine she possessed the potty-mouthed vocabulary to give her likely opinion on these new recipients of higher honours!

Thanks (6)
By Mr J Andrews
03rd Jan 2024 09:45

As shameless as rewarding Liz Truss's car crash cronies. Jim Harra must be scatching his pate in disbelief.

Thanks (2)
By SteveHa
03rd Jan 2024 10:49

Rawsthorne is tasked with upholding customer service levels with a shrinking workforce.

She's failed - so why is she being honoured?

Thanks (4)
paddle steamer
03rd Jan 2024 15:01

OBE-Others' Bloody Efforts
MBE-My Bloody Efforts
CBE-Cunning Bastards Efforts
CMG-Call Me God
KCMG-Kindly Call Me God
GCMG-God Calls Me God

(My grandfather was awarded an MBE(Military) in the reign of George V)

Thanks (2)
By indomitable
03rd Jan 2024 15:04

The whole thing is just unbelievable! It is no wonder most of us don't trust politicians anymore. I think people think the honours system, which seems to me just gongs for mates and people who move in the right circles, is a farce!

Thanks (2)
By Rob Swan
04th Jan 2024 11:50

A return favour may be required after the general election ;)

Thanks (0)