David Dunckley emerges as next in line for Grant Thornton UK top job

21 November 2018 Consultancy.uk

Following the Partner rebellion which is thought to have forced Sacha Romanovitch to vacate her position as the only female CEO of a leading British professional services firm, Grant Thornton has lined up a likely successor. David Dunckley, a 20-year employee of the firm, is understood to be in line for the role, having been backed by Chairman of the Board Ed Warner.

Appointed in mid-2015, Sacha Romanovitch became the first UK female CEO of a major UK professional services firm when she took the top job at Grant Thornton. However, just three years later, she was forced to announce she would be standing aside from the role, as soon as a successor was identified. The news came after a now infamous note was leaked to the UK press by a number of Partners and Directors at Grant Thornton, accusing Romanovitch somewhat hyperbolically of imposing a “socialist agenda”, but chiefly voicing disgruntlement of mixed fortunes in terms of the firm’s profitability over her tenure.

Now, the firm has announced that it intends for David Dunckley to become its new Chief Executive, pending regulatory approval. Dunckley also needs the backing from 75% of Grant Thornton’s 200 UK Partners; however with the only other candidate, Head of Operations Robert Hannah, having ruled himself out of contention, the ballot is now seen as a formality.

David Dunckley emerges as next in line for Grant Thornton UK top job

Dunckley was described by The Times as a “20-year industry veteran”, having joined Grant Thornton in 1998, though it is worth noting that this would still make him the junior of Romanovitch by eight years at the firm. Much reporting surrounding the move has highlighted length of tenure at the firm as a key aspect similarly suggesting an experienced hand may be being brought in to steady a ship following the an idealistic yet inexperienced predecessor. Critics have suggested this could feed into a broader theme of "old guard" sexism, allegedly initiated by long-time Partners who dislike the change to the order of things at the firm, and were hoping to push the CEO out.

While the debate regarding this will likely trundle on in the press, however, Grant Thornton will be keen for its new leader to draw a line under a troubled last few months, and help move the company forward. To that end, when his impending appointment was announced, Dunckley himself made a statement that he would “drive our firm forward” and felt “passionately about the big opportunity we have to accelerate our growth”.

Dunckley became a Partner at the firm in 2006, having first joined Grant Thornton in 1998. As a current member of Grant Thornton’s Strategic Leadership Team, he has responsibility for leading the mid-market teams in London, while also fulfilling the role of Global Head of Recovery & Reorganisation for Grant Thornton’s international network. Prior to his extensive spell with Grant Thornton, Dunckley trained as a Chartered Accountant, working in the audit practice of a private client firm with Rawlinson & Hunter, which he joined fresh from graduating from Loughborough University of Technology in 1994. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Physical Education, Sports Science and Mathematics.

Commenting on Dunckley’s ascension, Ed Warner, Chairman of the Board of Grant Thornton UK, said that he was the right person to “map out the next phase of our future.”

With the Big Four facing a competition probe for their dominance in the UK audit market, Grant Thornton will be eager to forge ahead as the quartet’s largest national competitor. The firm has already argued the case for an independent public body to appoint auditors, something it believes will boost competition for FTSE 350 accounting contracts, and once the firm has put the uncertainty of its future leadership to rest, it will expect to be in an influential position to push for such a landmark policy change.

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Rapid growth sees Quantum Advisory promote trio of partners

18 April 2019 Consultancy.uk

Three senior level consultants have been boosted to the rank of Partner at Quantum Advisory, as the firm works to meet heightened levels of client demand. Aled Edwards, Amanda Burdge and Chris Heirene become Partners as long-time Quantum member Rob Davies retires in May after 15 years as a Partner at the firm.

Founded in 2000, Quantum Advisory provides pension and employee benefits services to employers, scheme trustees and members, with five offices across the UK. The firm has enjoyed exponential growth in recent years, following a number of major client wins and booming demand for its services. It opened a new office in Bristol in 2016 to service the South West and in 2017 relocated its Cardiff office to a larger site within the Welsh capital to house the increased workforce. More recently, Quantum relocated its Amersham, Birmingham and London offices to more spacious premises in the centre of both cities to cope with demand.

The financial services consultancy, which employs 115 people across the UK, has promoted three senior team members to Partner, as part of its wider growth plans. The firm has moved Aled Edwards from Principal Consultant & Actuary, while Amanda Burdge has ascended from Principal Investment Consultant. Chris Heirene, former IT Manager, has also joined the ten current Partners at Quantum.

Aled Edwards most recently managed the actuarial team within Quantum’s Cardiff office as well as providing technical training for all staff. He boasts more than 17 years of pensions experience. He started his career as an Actuary at Jardine Lloyd Thompson’s Bristol wing, before joining Quantum in 2011. Edwards is also the President of the Welsh Actuarial Society (WAS), which supports actuaries and actuarial students living or working in Wales.

Rapid growth sees Quantum Advisory promote trio of Partners

Amanda Burdge joined Quantum’s team in 2001, as one of the fledgling firm’s first employees. Most recently she was a Principal Investment Consultant with the firm, and with more than a quarter of a century’s experience in the sector, she is responsible for providing investment advice to many of Quantum’s key clients with both defined benefit and defined contribution schemes. Prior to her time with Quantum, Burdge spent two years as a consultant with SBJ Benefit Consultants (now Capita), and three years with Tesco Pension Trustees. She currently sits on the Regulation Committee for the Pensions Management Institute.

Chris Heirene initially worked with Quantum as an IT Consultant with Teamwork Technology Services and then UES for over five years, before finally joining the firm itself in 2011. He is now responsible for Quantum’s IT systems across all of its offices, including the network and core server infrastructure which supports the business. Heirene is heavily involved in utilising IT to improve and build upon the processes in place throughout Quantum.

David Deidun, Partner at Quantum Advisory, said of the promotions, “This is a very exciting time for Quantum. The recent round of promotions fully recognise the hard work and dedication shown by the three, all of whom go above and beyond for the company. I’ve no doubt that Aled, Amanda and Chris will settle into their new roles with ease and look forward to working together to grow Quantum even further.”

The news comes as Rob Davies retires in May, after spending fifteen years as a Partner at Quantum. A qualified actuary, Davies was instrumental in setting up Quantum’s Investment Division, specialising in aiding clients with their investment strategies. He will remain with the company on a part-time consultancy basis, while working with several clients in the Fiduciary Manager area.