FirstFT: UK government hunts for new chair of accounting watchdog

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The UK government has launched a recruitment drive to expand the board of the accounting regulator following heavy criticism of the “fragile” state of the watchdog’s governance.

The business department has started a search for six non-executive directors and a chair for the Financial Reporting Council, which has been without a permanent boss since Simon Dingemans quit the role 14 months ago to join private equity group Carlyle.

An advert from the Cabinet Office said the position would pay an annual salary of £125,000 for two-and-a-half days’ work per week. Dingemans was paid an annual £150,000 for three days’ work per week.

Separately, the Council’s annual review of quality at the UK’s top seven audit firms this year took aim at KPMG over substandard banking audits for the third year running.

The industry has promised to improve after facing criticism for failing to sound the alarm before the collapses of businesses including Carillion, Thomas Cook and Patisserie Valerie.

What do you think of the government’s delay in finding a permanent successor to Dingemans? Write to me at jennifer.creery@ft.com and let me know what you think. — Jennifer

Five more stories in the news

1. BoE’s ‘modest tightening’ of monetary policy The Bank of England said “some modest tightening of monetary policy is likely to be necessary” over the next two years to keep inflation under control, while in a hawkish shift, most committee members indicated economic conditions had been met to start discussing raising interest rates again. But Andrew Bailey, the central bank’s governor, was not in the mood to be transparent.

Line chart of CPI inflation (annual % change). Actual and BoE forecasts showing The BoE now expects UK inflation to reach four per cent this year

2. Tidjane Thiam’s Spac in talks with Credijusto The former Credit Suisse chief executive’s blank-cheque company is in exclusive talks with Mexican fintech start-up Credijusto and Latin American corporate data provider CIAL Dun & Bradstreet to merge and list the groups in New York this year.

3. Apple to scan US iPhones for child abuse Apple intends to install software on American iPhones to scan for images of child abuse, according to people briefed on the plans, raising security researchers’ concerns that it could open the door to surveillance of millions of people’s personal devices.

4. US offers ‘safe haven’ to Hong Kongers Washington will defer removal of Hong Kong residents present in the US by 18 months, in response to China’s repression of the financial hub. The homeland security department did not say how many individuals will be eligible for the offer, but a US official told the Financial Times the number affected was “in the thousands”.

5. Lionel Messi and FC Barcelona part ways The Barcelona football club said yesterday that Lionel Messi, widely regarded as one of the greatest footballers in history, would leave because of “financial and structural obstacles” that it blamed on regulations imposed by Spain’s La Liga to rein in spending. For more on the business of sport, sign up for our Scoreboard newsletter.

Tokyo Olympics round-up

Krystsina Tsimanouskaya claimed refuge in the Polish embassy in Tokyo after she and her family appeared to be threatened by Belarus state officials
Krystsina Tsimanouskaya claimed refuge in the Polish embassy in Tokyo after she and her family appeared to be threatened by Belarus state officials © REUTERS
  • Two Belarusian coaches who allegedly tried to force Krystsina Tsimanouskaya on a flight have had their accreditation rescinded. The sprinter decided to defect after her grandmother said it was not safe to return home.

  • The Olympics sailing regatta ended yesterday with Britain again ruling the waves, winning the most medals at the Tokyo Games.

  • China’s Quan Hongchan, 14, won gold in women’s 10-metre platform diving.

  • Spain’s Alberto Ginés López, 18, has won the first-ever Olympic gold in sport climbing. (FT, Guardian, Reuters, CNN, NPR)

Catch up with the best of today’s sporting action at the Games with our Tokyo Olympics Daily report — find it with our Tokyo 2020 coverage.

Coronavirus digest

  • The number of alerts sent out by the NHS Covid-19 app in England and Wales fell 43 per cent in the week ending July 28.

  • The US plans to join Germany, Israel and France in giving booster shots to the immunocompromised. Health systems are braced for influenza as restrictions are lifted.

  • Novavax further delayed submitting its vaccine to the US regulator as it struggles with consistent manufacturing data.

  • Moderna’s jab is 93 per cent effective six months after the second dose, the drugmaker said, as it reported a record quarterly profit.

  • Wells Fargo, BlackRock and Amazon will delay returns to the office, a sign of the Delta variant hampering plans to resume pre-Covid work life. (FT, Reuters)

Covid has shown up western democracy’s childish tendencies, writes Edward Luce. Sign up for our Coronavirus Business Update newsletter.

The days ahead

Economic data The US labour department is expected to report an increase of 880,000 jobs when it publishes monthly data. France puts out monthly trade balance figures and Germany has industrial production data. Find more economic indicators here.

Hiroshima anniversary It is has been 76 years since the atomic bombing. The International Olympic Committee opted to not hold a moment of silence and instead will honour victims during the Games’ closing ceremony on Sunday. (Reuters)

Earnings round-up Allianz, Europe’s biggest insurer, reports and may offer information on claims in Germany from July’s devastating floods, which it expects to lead to more than €500m in payouts. Find more company reports here.

Edinburgh Fringe The freewheeling open-access festival created 74 years ago starts today after a pandemic-induced hiatus last year.

What else we’re reading

UK homebuyers struggle to step up The gap between the rungs of the UK’s property ladder are widening as prices soar and the nation emerges from lockdown. Homeowners’ pandemic-driven desire for more space has also compounded a backlog of buyers seeking to move.

Line chart of Percentile of non-retired household incomes showing Home buyers are moving up the income scale

Starmer urges Labour to embrace Blair’s legacy Sir Keir Starmer has vowed to “turn the Labour party inside out” as he prepares for an autumn relaunch of his leadership. But after four general election losses since 2010, the opposition leader tells the FT he is “acutely aware” he has to rebuild its relationship with business.

Fixing a broken workplace culture High-pressure professional firms have to change the way they operate to make jobs compatible with personal life, writes Delphine Strauss. While pay rises no doubt help, it is not just about the money. To get your career moving, behavioural scientist Grace Lordan says keep an eye on the big picture.

Why do some inventions arrive late? We often overrate the eureka moment of the inventor’s doodle and overlook the importance of precursors that enabled or inspired the idea. Perhaps it is because innovation does not come naturally — most of us do what we see others doing, writes Tim Harford.

Tim Harford: ‘Curious minds want to know why these ideas appeared so late — and whether there might be anything that would prevent delays in future. One explanation is that the ideas aren’t as simple as they appear’
Tim Harford: ‘Curious minds want to know why these ideas appeared so late — and whether there might be anything that would prevent delays in future. One explanation is that the ideas aren’t as simple as they appear’ © Anna Wray

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