Experimental feature

Listen to this article

Experimental feature

This article is from today’s FT Opinion email. Sign up to receive a daily digest of the big issues straight to your inbox.

In 2015, Sacha Romanovitch became the first female chief executive of a major British accounting firm. On Monday, she announced that she would be stepping down as CEO of Grant Thornton, a company she joined 24 years ago.

In a profile, Madison Marriage describes how Ms Romanovitch had raised eyebrows at Grant Thornton with her decision to cap her salary at 20 times that of the average employee. Some of her colleagues complained that she was pursuing a “socialist agenda”.

The firm's performance on Ms Romanovitch's watch has been mixed, but some observers wonder if a man attempting to reform the company at the speed she did would have encountered similar resistance.

Richard Haass, president of the Council on Foreign Relations, writes that the US must shed any illusions it harbours about Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman in the wake of the disappearance, and apparent murder, of the journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

The literary critic and two-time Man Booker Prize judge John Sutherland suggests that the award of this year's prize to Anna Burns' Milkman, a somewhat recondite novel about the Northern Irish Troubles, reflects a tension between high-mindedness and readability that was baked into the contest's original design.

Frank Field, chair of the House of Commons work and pensions committee, argues that universal credit, the government's attempt to overhaul the UK benefits system, is pushing the low paid into destitution.

Tim Harford contends that the case for drip-feed investing is plausible, but costs more.

Best of the week

Obamacare’s recovery defies the Republican death wish— Janan Ganesh

The enduring myth of the young Arab reformer— Roula Khalaf

Trump's dangerous reliance on Saudi Arabia— Gideon Rachman

Workplace exhaustion is a vicious cycle in the UK— Sarah O'Connor

Sears: how a pioneering brand found itself left on the shelf— Andrew Edgecliffe-Johnson

Brexit's one certain outcome is uncertainty— Philip Stephens

Khashoggi case puts US business in a bind— Gillian Tett

Compassion or Hard Brexit: the choice facing Britain's Tories— Robert Shrimsley

Corporate elites are overlooking deglobalisation— Rana Foroohar

'Known unknowns' to help the UK budget for Brexit— Martin Wolf

What you've been saying

The border was already open. What if Merkel had closed it? : letter from Thomas Meaney, Berlin, Germany

The FT continues to cleave to the formulation that German chancellor Angela Merkel was responsible for “opening Germany’s borders to refugees” in September 2015 (“Germany’s voters turn right — and left”; “Germany’s political centre cannot hold”.) Almost all sophisticated liberal commentators agree that the German border with Austria, in accordance with Schengen rules, was already open. Your columnists are often quick to regret Ms Merkel’s decision and its political consequences, but seem remarkably less willing to imagine what would have happened had she decided to close the border, an act that may well have drawn even more legal scrutiny, and courted humanitarian disaster.

In response to "‘Known unknowns’ to help the UK budget for Brexit”, Paul A. Myers says:

A larger squeeze will be put on the UK over the coming half decade as world growth slows and the dynamic center of what global growth there is becomes more firmly rooted in the Far East and India. One suspects that the combined effect of Brexit and whatever the long-run impacts of the new Italian “exceptionalism” are will bifurcate Europe into a continent of relative winners versus relative losers. If a more cohesive Eurozone emerges (with Italy as some sort of colony similar to Greece), then the UK will have to climb over a much higher wall if it wants to get back into Europe in the future.

No more than a happy coincidence, surely? : letter from Elizabeth Balsom, London, UK

I trust that Norway’s decision in the 1970s not to join the European Community has no bearing on the fact that today Oslo’s citizens are happier than Helsinki’s? ( City Stats, House & Home, October 16.)

Today's opinion

FT Alphaville: Thoughts for the weekend

Lex: Provident Financial: door relations
Human contact is a refreshing feature in the age of apps

Universal credit is a Wonderland reform divorced from real lives
The government’s radical overhaul of benefits is pushing the low paid into destitution

Lex: Bank OZK: arrested development
Lender’s strains carry echoes of the last financial crisis

Lex: Chinese luxury spending: lux in flux
Crackdown on unofficial imports is not all bad news for sector

Lex: PayPal: cash out
Digital payments company’s stock needs a youthful kick

Lex: Michelin: circular logic
Cyclical sectors, such as tyres, offer cheap valuations for a reason

beyondbrics: African PE leads the way in ESG investment
Enduring role of development finance has made responsible investment a priority

The Top Line: Khashoggi case shows bankers have become our morality police
Big recipients of Saudi money and the regime’s armourers warrant more scrutiny

The unfashionable coldness of Ryan Gosling in ‘First Man’
One small step for emotional reticence . . .

beyondbrics: China’s Belt and Road at 5: ‘one-to-many’ or ‘many-to-many’? Dollar constraint may lead to more multilateral approach in Beijing’s initiative

Inside London: Why Sainsbury and Asda can survive without merging Defensive tie-ups such as this one do not deal with basic issues of businesses under threat

FT Magazine: Jancis Robinson on the perfect wines for entertaining ‘Oxygen and a little warmth are the two most powerful variables for any host serving wine’

FTfm: Data in the cloud falls back to earth

You tell us: how to maintain economic growth and save the planet Last week, Tim Harford called for innovation on climate change. FT readers respond

My quest for self-sufficiency via a giant handbag No need to juggle work and home if you lug both around wherever you go

FT Alphaville: Markets Live: Friday, 19th October 2018

Meet Shaunaugh, my imaginary friend An expat’s upheaval means that some friendships are sloughed off and others are invented

Parterre familiar: the gardens at Villa Silvio Pellico The structure set out by Russell Page in the 1950s has been largely preserved but with a few simplifications

Free Lunch: The devil is in the detail of Rome’s new budget
The worry should not be how much Italy’s government spends, but on what

FT Alphaville: Warnings mount for leveraged-loan market

Prepare for Philip Hammond’s ‘trick or treat’ Budget
Will the chancellor risk antagonising Tory voters and backbench MPs with tax changes?

Ingram Pinn’s illustration of the week: Crime scene
Turkey investigates alleged Khashoggi killing

US must shed its illusions about Saudi Arabia’s crown prince
The fate of journalist Khashoggi will make it trickier to gain support to pressure Iran

Undercover Economist: The case for drip-feed investing is plausible, but costs more
Since markets rise more often than they fall, spending lump sums proves a better bet

City Insider: Sacha Romanovitch: a reactionary tale
Grant Thornton’s chief exits after trying to haul audit profession into 21st century

FT View

The FT View: City of London’s clean air plan is a model for others
Curbing pollution needs more people to change their behaviour

The FT View: Making sense of the Trumpian trade policy
America’s calm and intemperate sides were both on display this week

The Big Read

The Big Read: BlackRock: a vast money machine splutters
Shares in the company are down 30 per cent from their peak. Is this a warning of deeper problems in the market?

Get alerts on Sacha Romanovitch when a new story is published

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2019. All rights reserved.

Follow the topics in this article