Richard Houston named new Deloitte North West Europe chief

20 December 2018 3 min. read
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Global auditing and advisory firm Deloitte has completed the process of replacing outgoing North West Europe CEO David Sproul next year. Sproul has served the maximum two terms in office, and UK Consulting boss Richard Houston has been confirmed as his successor from June 2019.

2019 promises to be a difficult year for businesses in the UK and across North West Europe, as a perfect storm of Brexit and economic anxieties across the EU look set to rock markets across the continent. At the same time, while the findings of a much anticipated probe by the Competition & Markets Authority probe have spared the Big Four audit and advisory firms the ultimate threat of being broken up, a likely market cap means EY, KPMGPwC and Deloitte will have to shift their footing quickly to adapt for the future.

Amid this uncertainty, Big Four firm Deloitte has announced its successor for David Sproul, the firm’s outgoing Chief Executive for its North West Europe and UK wings. Sproul, who has served the maximum of two terms at the top, will be replaced by Deloitte UK’s current Consulting Managing Partner Richard Houston as of 1 June 2019. Sproul was initially elected in 2011, after just eight years at Deloitte. Since his coronation as CEO, he has presided over eight consecutive years of revenue growth at the firm, but will retire as he exits the role.

Richard Houston named new Deloitte North West Europe chief

Houston, a former HSBC and RBS banker will also take on the mantel of Senior Partner. Houston joined Deloitte from Arthur Andersen in 1996, and has taken the more traditional, long-term service route to Deloitte’s hot-seat than the rapidly ascending Sproul. Houston became a Partner 20 years ago, and was later appointed Financial Services Partner at Deloitte in 2002, before rising to the rank of Managing Partner of Deloitte’s UK consulting business in 2015.

The race to replace Sproul had commenced several weeks previous, and was understood to have been between just two candidates. Houston was said to face opposition from Panos Kakoullis, a Managing Director in Deloitte's Audit practice and the firm’s Global Audit and Assurance Leader; however, Kakoullis’ close association with the audit side of operations was thought by some colleagues and competitors have tainted his candidacy, due to the hostility Deloitte’s accounting wing has encountered in the UK in the wake of a plethora of scandals through 2018 in particular.

Houston will now oversee Deloitte’s UK and North West Europe operations. This also includes the firm’s wings in Belgium, Ireland, the Netherlands, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland. The regional operations employ 35,000 people and 2,000 Partners.

Commenting on the challenge ahead, Houston said, “It will be an enormous privilege to lead the firm as its next senior partner and chief executive, building on Deloitte’s established pre-eminent market position. Our clients and Deloitte’s own profession face an era of substantial change and challenge, and we’re committed to anticipating, managing and leading the response to this.”