So Brian has gone. Or so I thought.
Of course, he has been hounding me on the phone and in person. He wants to know how what just happened to him could happen.
He also wants to know what he can do about it. He keeps going on about our dismissal policies and rights of appeal and natural justice and so on.
Problem is we don’t really do things like that at Utilico.
I’ve tried to explain to him that we see collective responsibility as binding and if he is believed to have breached that then he has lost the trust and confidence of his fellow directors and has to go. There is no appeal process. It’s not like a disciplinary process for an employee where there is an investigation, steps of sanctions, a hearing, an appeal, and so on. Mind you, we don’t really give much credence to that either. If someone wants you out, then you’re out – depending on who that someone is – and who you are.
He has asked for his contract. I managed to dig out a standard letter of appointment. But that doesn’t help him much as it just waffles on about that very notion of collective responsibility and seems to allow us to terminate his appointment for a variety of spurious reasons. I’m paraphrasing of course but these seem to include:
• You’ve done something we don’t like
• You’ve not done something we think you should have done
• We think you disagree with us
• We don’t trust you to toe the line
• We think you haven’t complied with something that we haven’t actually told you about
• We don’t like the cut of your jib.
And that of course is on top of all the other reasons like being a criminal, or a bankrupt. And we seem to have something in about having a mental health problem too which I’m not convinced is legal. Good job it doesn’t refer to having a personality disorder as half our directors would have to go.
Anyway, after nearly two weeks of ping-ponging on these matters, I do seem to have got Brian off my back for now at least. I’m waiting for the solicitor’s letter though.
So onto his replacement. Well I dug out a role profile and all the stuff and got onto our agency of choice – Gateway Towonga. They fielded about 50 candidates including of course the great and the good from the world of accountancy. I’m amazed that people seem willing to take on a role with us. We are in the middle of a Serious Fraud Office investigation. It has been very, very painful so far and there is little sign that the pain is going to go away anytime soon. Still I suppose a six figure sum for a couple of days’ work a month goes a long way to easing the pain. It certainly would for me. Well that figure for full time would work for me.
Rather surprisingly, neither our Chair nor Vice Chair has to-date taken any interest in the search and selection process. But perhaps I shouldn’t be surprised. Both have a hands-on, hands-off approach. They like others to do their dirty work. By that I mean they want Lyle Clean and Tony Wall to make sure we get the safe man. And I say man because I mean man. We can’t have another woman. We have our lady quota already with Gloria Ewes. In any event, looking through the long list there aren’t many women on it.
And I should probably say a white and elderly man. Well grey and elderly. 50 shades of grey.
Lyle and Tony looked over our long-list. Lyle sent it off somewhere to do what he calls ‘due diligence’ on them. I’m not sure that any lawyer or accountant would recognise his due diligence as such. I’m pretty sure it’s not about fitness to serve. It’s about being safe and clubbable. And probably bribable. They’ve certainly learnt from the experience of Brian.
Anyway, following the results of the due diligence test, today we have seen a number of them. So many grey men in grey suits. The adage of “male, pale and stale” certainly applies to this bunch. Not that I’m young or interesting either. But Christian Grey they are not.
So who shall we choose to chair our Audit Committee? The 67 year old Sir with lots of finance director experience at FTSE 100 companies? The 65 year old CBE with banking experience? The plain old senior partner of Outer Tuck?
You will just have to wait until my next thrilling instalment to find out!