Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Lone Ranger Calling the Shots on Savings

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Lone Ranger Calling the Shots on Savings

Article excerpt

Byline: JONATHAN PRYNN

Jonathan Prynn unmasks the straight-talking tough guy behind today's Sandler Report WHEN Chancellor Gordon Brown unveiled Ron Sandler as his secret weapon to shake up the long-term savings market, the insurance industry trembled. The bearded iconoclast had an image as a fiercely intelligent tough guy who would take few prisoners.

The 51-year-old first earned his hired-gun reputation at the Lloyd's insurance market where, as chief executive under the chairmanship of Sir David Rowland, he helped settle the seemingly endless disputes with Names in the mid-Nineties.

He was famously parachuted into NatWest by Rowland in October 1999 to help defend the bank against that unwelcome brace of pillagers from the far north, Bank of Scotland and eventual victor Royal Bank of Scotland.

Despite defeat in that struggle, Sandler won many admirers in the City - and plenty of detractors.

Says top City PR man Angus Maitland, who worked with him at NatWest and Lloyd's: "He is clever, pretty cool in a crisis and has a good conceit of himself." Others in the City describe him as an immensely likeable straight-talker who comes to the City with a valuable outsider's perspective.

"Anyone who grows a beard like that is by definition an outsider," says one former colleague.

The son of a doctor, Sandler grew up in Zimbabwe before arriving in Britain to earn a first-class engineering degree at Cambridge. The early part of his career was spent in management consultancy with Boston Consulting Group and Booz Allen & Hamilton, which critics say left its mark in an overinflated self-opinion of his ability to solve problems.

After a brief and unhappy experience running Exco, a money broker that had been part of the collapsed British & Commonwealth group, Sandler got the call from Rowland to join him at Lloyd's.

His task was to broker peace talks between the warring factions that threatened to bring down the world's most famous insurance market and deliver the Reconstruction and Renewal programme.

He is generally reckoned to have cut the mustard at Lloyd's, despite his lack of experience in insurance, and quickly mastered its problems. …

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