Richard Lawrence joins FRC Audit and Assurance Council

30 April 2019 3 min. read
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A former Senior Manager at PwC has been appointed to the Audit and Assurance Council of the UK’s auditing watchdog. Richard Lawrence, a chartered accountant who trained at PwC, is currently Head of Accounting & Valuation Policy at RBS, where he has held a number of senior finance roles.

The auditing work of the professional services world's Big Four has been on the receiving end of a stinging criticism from the accounting industry ombudsman, following a string of errors which have allegedly led to the collapse of companies in the UK. In 2018, the situation advanced to such a point that, citing a decline in the quality of audits by the Big Four as a whole, the UK’s accounting watchdog singled KPMG out in particular for closer scrutiny. The watchdog decided to inspect a quarter of all audits by KPMG for the remaining financial year, while also hitting the country’s largest auditors with fines for a number of oversights and scandals.

It is not only the top dogs of the auditing and advisory world which have been subject to scrutiny, however. The Financial Reporting Council (FRC) was also publicly pilloried for allegedly failing to act more stringently on the matter. This ultimately culminated in the much heralded Kingman Review saying the FRC was no longer fit for purpose, and should be replaced “as soon as possible” with a new statutory regulator.

Richard Lawrence joins FRC Audit and Assurance Council

In accordance with this, the FRC is set to be replaced with a new audit regulator, known as the Audit, Reporting and Governance Authority (ARGA). It will have a new mandate, new leadership and stronger powers set down in law. Recruitment for the new chair, deputy chair and CEO has begun; however, while this process continues, the FRC will continue to serve as the UK’s accounting ombudsman. As it looks to strengthen its performance during this interim period, it has appointed a new member of its Audit and Assurance Council, comprised of a Chair and up to 14 members, half of whom are practising members of the audit profession.

Former Big Four employee Richard Lawrence has been signed up for the organisation, following two decades in the auditing sector. A chartered accountant who trained at PwC, Lawrence rose to the rank of Senior Manager at the firm, before ending his nine-year stay at the company to join ABN AMRO. There he became Executive Director, Finance, before joining RBS in 2008. A decade later, he is currently Head of Accounting & Valuation Policy at the bank, while also sitting on a number of ICAEW and UK Finance industry committees.

Related: FRC to hit KPMG with £4 million fine over Co-op Bank audit.