Global EY Chairman Mark Weinberger to retire in 2019

05 December 2018
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Mark Weinberger has announced he is to retire from his role as Chairman and CEO of EY, once he completes his sixth year in the role. Weinberger will step down in mid-2019, with the search for his replacement commencing in the New Year.

The Global Chairman and Chief Executive of EY has announced plans to retire after six years at the helm of the international auditing and advisory firm. The announcement sees Mark Weinberger call time on a three decade spell with EY, having commenced his career at the Big Four member in 1987, in EY's US Tax Department. On his way to taking the top job at EY six years ago, Weinberger took several government positions, including Chief of Staff to US President Bill Clinton's 1994 commission on tax reform, and the Assistant Secretary of the United States Department of the Treasury (Tax Policy) in the George W. Bush administration.

As EY Global Chairman and CEO, Weinberger currently works with businesses, entrepreneurs and governments to help solve their most pressing challenges and help them take advantage of emerging opportunities. In his role, he leads a global staff of 260,000, among whom he remains a popular figure. In 2017, a survey from competitive intelligence platform Owler found Weinberger was the “most likeable CEO” in the professional services industry, ahead of his Big Four counterparts.Global EY Chairman Mark Weinberger to retire in 2019 Under his tenure as Chairman and CEO, EY’s annual revenue growth has averaged an impressive 8.5%, hitting an all-time high in the latest financial year of $35 billion. Weinberger has also presided over a period of major change for EY’s investment priorities, as it seeks to maintain this momentum into the future. Earlier in 2018, the Global Chairman announced that EY would sink $1 billion into new digital transformation initiatives – including cyber security, artificial intelligence and data acquisitions, solutions and hiring – as the Big Four giant looks to position itself at the head of a booming digital transformation consulting market.

The right time for handover

In a statement released to the media regarding his impending retirement, Weinberger said, "When I reflected on the massive changes we have navigated over the last seven years and the strong position we command to enable EY to excel in the years ahead, I realised that the time is right for me to step aside."

Highlighting "a well-defined succession process", meanwhile, an EY spokesperson announced the search to replace Weinberger will begin at the start of 2019. Following a period of transition to acclimatise his replacement, Weinberger will then formally step down on July 1, 2019.

While his stewardship of the company has brought with it great successes for EY over the past five years, however, Weinberger’s time has also coincided with an era of heightened public scrutiny for top auditing and advisory firms. This saw him struggle with the aftermath of several scandals involving EY during the financial crisis of 2008. Among other cases, in 2015, Japanese regulators fined its Japan affiliate $17.4 million over a 2008 audit of Toshiba’s accounts that failed to spot irregularities. In the same year EY paid $10 million to settle a New York lawsuit, having been accused of helping Lehman Brothers deceive investors before its infamous collapse.

Weinberger’s departure also comes at a critical time for the UK audit market specifically, which has come under unprecedented scrutiny in the UK, where the Big Four now face a probe from the Competition & Markets Authority, following a litany of auditing scandals in recent months. Following the high-profile collapse of Carillion, the situation has escalated to such a level of hostility to the Big Four, the ‘break-up’ of the quartet is often openly discussed by political figures in Britain. Responding to this, in September Weinberger rebuffed these calls, despite mounting criticism of the severe lack of competition in the audit market.

With this in mind, Weinberger’s replacement will clearly have their work cut out when it comes to facing down a number of challenges to the firm’s bullish market performance of late.