THE HUMAN FACTOR: At the Bank of England, the FSA and the London Stock Exchange, New Men Are in Charge - All Very Different from Their Predecessors

Article excerpt

It's back-to-school time and the City must get used to a new roster of prefects. Sir Edward George has left Threadneedle Street, intent on spending more time in his Cornish garden. Sir Howard Davies has left Canary Wharf and starts the academic year as director of the London School of Economics. Don Cruickshank has left the Stock Exchange Tower but, as one of Gordon Brown's favourite hit-men, will surely soon be put to work.

All this means that at the Bank of England, the Financial Services Authority and the London Stock Exchange, pivotal institutions of the Square Mile and beyond, new men are in charge. All are very different from their predecessors, and those who will come under their jurisdiction want hints as to what impact this new regime will have on the playground. There may be some relief that two of the three have already assured me that they will be making fewer speeches than the previous incumbents.

George relished his speech-making as much as the whisky with which he liked to lubricate his vocal chords. Mervyn King, his former deputy, will not be seen so regularly in the splendour of the City's livery halls. A highly respected former academic economist, King is the Bank's monetary policy personified. Whereas the avuncular Sir Eddie was a reassuring presence around the City, King gives the impression that the world's economic woes rest on his shoulders.

Rather than stay within the confines and the comfort of the Square Mile, King will venture regularly into the regions, listening to those affected by the Bank's deliberations. Branded a hawk, he has been deeply concerned about Britain's two-speed economy. To have consumer spending bounding ahead while manufacturing is virtually in recession is a contradiction that cannot be sustained. The niggling concern about how this situation will be resolved is never far from King's mind. His many fans in the City are glad to have him worrying on our behalf.

Callum McCarthy, the new chairman of the FSA, wears his worrying lightly. A bouncy, fast-talking character, he is generally considered an ideal choice to head the sprawling financial regulator. He has extensive experience of investment banking, but also the rather rarer addition to a City CV of having been a regulator. McCarthy arrives from Ofgem, the energy watchdog, where he demonstrated remarkable toughness under attack from both industry and politicians. …


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