Big Four global heads make top 100 CEO listing

Despite a turbulent year for the Big Four, which saw strong criticism for their executive teams from MPs, the public and the regulators, the CEOs of EY, Deloitte, PWC and KPMG all feature in a new study of the world’s 100 most reputable CEOs

Brand Finance, a brand valuation and strategy consultancy, has rated CEOs according to their ability to be a ‘brand guardian’, with Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos taking top slot. However, the consultancy warns of a potential $10bn loss to the tech company’s brand value if his divorce is mishandled.

The brand guardianship metric scored 0-100 considers multiple inputs reflecting CEOs’ success in marketing investment, stakeholder equity, and business performance.

Toyota’s Akio Toyoda comes second on the list with a 71.6 score, celebrating 10 years at helm of the car manufacturer and having overcome the very public reputational disaster in 2010 as a result of faulty accelerator pedals linked to dozens of deaths and injuries.

Brit Tim Cook, who is credited with upholding Steve Jobs’ legacy at Apple, holds fourth place. Half of the top ten in the list are from tech companies, but Google CEO Sundar Pichai does not make the cut, ranked 13th, after seeing his reputation dented by a recent Congress hearing. Similarly, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is at number 16, reflecting concerns about the social platform’s role in spreading ‘fake news’.

Mark Weinberger of EY is the highest ranked of the Big Four leaders, at number 43 and with a combined brand score of 48.6. Deloitte’s Punjit Renjen is at 48 with a score of 47.7, followed by Bob Moritz of PwC at 53 with a 47.4 score. KPMG’s Lynne Doughtie, one of only three women on the listing, is placed at 73 and scored at 44.3.

David Haigh, CEO of Brand Finance, said: ‘Developing a strong brand is now more important than ever, not only for commercial success, but for longevity of the relationship between a brand and its stakeholders.

‘The role of the chief executive officer has totally evolved as we navigate the era of personality CEOs where public scrutiny is equal to that of a celebrity figure. It is no longer enough to have a vision for the brand’s future. It is about forging an authentic public profile and reacting earnestly to reputational crises – especially as customers become more discerning in their experiences and expectations.

‘This new research shines a spotlight on those CEOs who are succeeding in building brand resilience and safeguarding brand value.’

Of the 100 CEOs who are ranked, 37% lead US-based companies while 22% come from China.

Some have held the top executive position for decades - the world’s third most reputable CEO, Bernard Arnault of Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton SE, (LVMH) has been leading the French luxury goods conglomerate for the last 30 years.

Softbank’s Masayoshi Son is the longest-serving CEO in the ranking, having managed the brand since its foundation in 1981, and is placed at number 69.

Newly appointed CEOs also feature including Uber’s Dara Khosrowshahi. Brand Finance says that despite having only taken the reigns at the cab-booking app in late 2017, he has, in such a short span of time, also forged a reputation as a trusted leader, ranked 38th with a Brand Guardianship Index score of 50.1 out of 100.

The full report is scheduled for release on 22January at a World Economic Forum event in Davos discussing the role of CEOs in shaping brands and reputation.

Report by Pat Sweet

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