This champion of integrity in international financial reporting has led the development of underlying standards both in the United Kingdom and around the globe. Deep understanding of the issues, tireless dedication to the task, and boundless wit and good humor are the hallmarks of his leadership through a period of great progress toward a coherent approach to international financial reporting.
He was born in 1944 in Newcastle-Upon-Tyne in the north east of England. His mother had been forced to leave London earlier in the war after the bombing of the family home in London during the Blitz. His father was serving in the Royal Air Force and, later, was the only survivor of a crash of a Lancaster bomber that went down in France.
He graduated from Edinburgh University with a BCom degree with first class honors in 1966 and a PhD in 1969. Upon completion of his doctorate, he joined the firm of Mann Judd Gordon & Co in Glasgow. In 1972, he qualified as a Scottish Chartered Accountant and returned to Edinburgh University as a member of its faculty where he taught accounting for six years, serving for three years as Associate Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences.
In 1978 he was appointed Technical Director of The Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland (ICAS), a position he held for three years. In 1982, he was named national technical partner of the accounting firm of Thomson McLintock & Co. In 1987, his firm merged with Peat Marwick Mitchell & Co and he was appointed national technical partner of the merged firm of KPMG. He also served as Vice Chairman and then Chairman of the UK’s Auditing Practices Committee and the UK’s representative on the International Auditing Practices Committee. During this period, he became an outspoken, effective and highly regarded critic of the then accepted accounting standards. A firm believer in carefully-conceived, principles-based accounting standards, he authored or co-authored four books and published over 30 articles on accounting, auditing, and standard setting, tackling both national and international issues.
In 1990, he was appointed the full-time chairman of the United Kingdom’s newly formed Accounting Standards Board established by the British government and accounting profession to reform the UK’s accounting standards. He held this post for ten years and led the ambitious revisions of British accounting standards including abolishing the extraordinary item, attacking profit management, introducing the impairment approach to goodwill, and requiring pension fund surpluses and deficits to be shown in the financial statements. He also served as the first chairman of the G4+1 group of national standard setters. Most of the changes implemented in the UK eventually found their way into international accounting standards.
In 2000, as a result of his highly effective role in reforming British accounting standards, the trustees of the International Accounting Standards Board selected him to be the first chairman of the IASB and CEO of the IASC Foundation (now the IFRS Foundation). He led the Board for ten years until his term ended in June of 2011. He met regularly with government ministers and senior officials around the world and appeared on several occasions before the Committee of EU Finance Ministers, the EU Parliament, the US Senate Banking Committee, and the UK Parliament’s Treasury Select Committee. He also served as a member of the Financial Stability Board which brought him into regular contact with banking and financial regulators in the UK, the US, and elsewhere. During his tenure with the IASB, significant progress was made on developing accepted global standards of high quality. And very significantly, the number of countries requiring or permitting the use of these standards grew from a mere handful to more than 100 including EU countries, most of Latin America, Australasia, Canada, Korea and Japan.
Governments, professional bodies, and academic institutions have honored him for his extraordinary contributions to the advancement of accounting and financial reporting. He was knighted in 1994. He has received awards from The Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales, The Chartered Institute of Management Accountants, The International Federation of Accountants, and many other professional organizations. In addition, he holds honorary doctorates from nine universities.
During 2012-2013, he served as President of The Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland (ICAS). Currently he is chairman of the Trustees of the International Valuation Standards Council (IVSC) and chairs the Royal Household Audit Committee for the Sovereign Grant. Beginning this year, he will be Visiting Professor of Accounting at Capital University of Economics and Business in Beijing, China. He also chairs the board of trustees of Leuchie House, Scotland’s charity giving respite care to those with degenerative diseases and The ICAS Foundation which assists young students from deprived backgrounds aspiring to enter a university.
He lives in North Berwick, Scotland, with his wife, Jan. They have two sons, Ross and Mark.
He is the ninetieth member of The Accounting Hall of Fame, Sir David Philip Tweedie.