Francis Small

Treasured memories from working at EY

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Francis Small, EY’s former senior partner for international clients, talks about being drawn to EY from the very start after calling time on his 35-year career

When studying law at Cambridge in the late 1970s, Francis wanted to make a name for himself in the legal world. But those plans were abandoned after he attended an EY recruitment presentation in his second year. “What attracted me? The firm tailored a role for me working with entrepreneurial companies, often run by someone with a great idea and enormous enthusiasm".

Two years later, Francis switched to work with blue-chip clients. His first role in a flotation came in 1983 when Iceland Frozen Foods went to market. “We talked about pricing the flotation and went with 210p. Two weeks later, we found out that it was oversubscribed by 105 times! The first trade was done at 330p and eventually the shares went up to 560p. It was one of those moments that I’ll never forget — I still feel excited now thinking about it.”

In 1987, Francis moved to Fraud Investigation & Dispute Services, where lawyers would work out who was liable, but it was up to him and his colleagues to establish the amounts involved.

In May 1989 Francis made partner and took on two roles, as an audit partner and as National Recruitment Partner of the merged firms. “I had to learn a huge amount about the firm and then articulate everything that was great about EY to potential recruits. Even now, I get great pleasure from seeing people that we recruited at that time who are still with the firm.”

Francis spent three years as Global Leader of our Transactions business (TAS) and then in 2008 he moved to the Middle East as Global Leader of Sovereign Wealth Funds. Based in Dubai, the role involved working with EY’s 20 offices throughout the region to support the Sovereign Wealth Funds as they invested in high–profile assets in London, New York, Paris and Rome. Two years later he was back in London, where he took up a role leading the international market segment.

Francis says he will treasure his memories of EY. “There’s a momentum about the place that I’ll miss hugely. It’s an extraordinary learning environment and there’s a real commitment to client service. You wouldn’t believe the journey I’ve been on and how the organisation has evolved over that period. The firm is in great shape and it is constantly creating new opportunities. “Most of all, I’ll miss working with the great people at EY.”