Bank of England Supervision Chief Expected to Call It a Day

Article excerpt

Brian Quinn, the most senior executive director at the Bank of England, is expected to step down when his four-year contract ends in February.

Mr Quinn, whose responsibilities include banking supervision, has survived three major bank failures; the collapse of Johnson Matthey Bankers in 1984, that of BCCI in 1991 and Barings earlier this year.

Sources suggest that the 58-year-old has decided it is time to leave the bank when his contract expires early next year, when he will be 59.

In spite of criticisms of the Bank for regulatory failures in the Board of Banking Supervision's report into the Barings affair, the Bank has so far suffered only one casualty.

Christopher Thompson, a manager in the banking supervision department, resigned in July after being criticised by name for offering Barings an informal waiver allowing its exposure to its Singapore sub- sidiary to exceed 25 per cent.

Mr Quinn was not criticised in the report, and he was not in charge of supervision on a day-to-day basis. But the report concluded with a number of lessons for the Bank of England. These included a need to increase its understanding of the risks in the securities business and a plea for it to collaborate more closely with other regulators, in the UK and overseas.

Mr Quinn's departure is likely to be be presented by the Bank as his own decision after a long stint in the hot seat.

The normal retirement age for Bank of England employees is 60, but there is no firm rule for directors. They rarely remain past the age of 70, but quite often stay on into their sixties.

Yesterday the Bank would make no comment on whether Mr Quinn was likely to take on a third four-year term.

Treasury sources have suggested that ministers would have liked to see other heads roll at the Bank of England.

Sources close to the Bank say morale in the supervision department has been declining since the Bank was reorganised into separate monetary stability and financial stability divisions just over a year ago.

The Bank's high-flyers have opted to move into the monetary policy area. "There is a real feeling that we are in a backwater. There is a lot of dissatisfaction," said one supervisory official.

This low morale is matched by the low opinion of supervisors held by some City bankers. …