The first female CEO of a major accounting firm in the U.K. won’t have to worry about partners stabbing her in the back in her new position as CEO of a financial inclusion organization called Fair4All Finance:
We are happy to announce the appointment of our first CEO, Sacha Romanovitch. From 1st Sep she will lead us to develop activities, partnerships and programmes that support the financial wellbeing of vulnerable people. Congratulations @romanovsun! https://t.co/vWiVPXlfOc
— Fair4All Finance (@Fair4AllFinance) August 8, 2019
Romanovitch, who was CEO of Grant Thornton U.K. from 2015 to 2018, stood out from the other candidates because “she has great empathy for the plight of individuals who are currently excluded from accessing fair and affordable financial services, which, together with her vision and energy, means that she is a great choice for the role,” Richard Collier-Keywood, founding executive chair of Fair4All Finance, said in a statement.
Romanovitch tweeted her excitement at once again being in the corner office:
Really excited to take on this role and very grateful for the opportunity to do so. 12m people having less than £50 savings – too many exist on the edge and that has to change. https://t.co/Dxlbsf18cr
— Sacha Romanovitch (@romanovsun) August 8, 2019
A 28-year veteran of the Queen’s Grant Thornton, Romanovitch took over as CEO of the firm in July 2015. She is credited with putting in place a “shared enterprise” model—a huge departure from the usual partner-owned and run structure of professional services firms—in which all of GT U.K.’s 4,500 employees would have a say and a stake in how the firm is operated. She also repositioned the firm to focus on “profits with purpose,” which meant dropping unsavory clients in an attempt to grow sustainably.
However, GT’s profits before tax fell 12% to £72 million in the 12 months after Romanovitch took over, although they rose 8% to £78 million in the following year, which ended in June 2017. And during her tenure, GT’s overall revenue fell by 6.4% from £534 million to £500 million, as the firm reshaped its client portfolio
In addition, the firm’s average profit per partner fell 8% from £403,000 to £373,000 in 2017-18, which put GT behind the Big 4 firms and BDO.
A mutiny among a small group of partners caused Romanovitch to announce last October that she wouldn’t seek a second four-year term as GT CEO. Another longtime GTer, Dave Dunckley, took over as CEO in January.