Hogg Needs to Set an Example at Bank and Quit before She's Pushed

The Evening Standard (London, England), March 13, 2017 | Go to article overview

Hogg Needs to Set an Example at Bank and Quit before She's Pushed


Byline: city comment James Ashton

TWO distinct challenges awaited Mark Carney when he arrived as Governor of the Bank of England in 2013. The first was to build a robust system of regulation to protect the UK economy from another financial collapse. The second was to overhaul the running of the Bank, suspected to have been suffering from a culture of deference and groupthink and lacking transparency during previous governorships.

On the first point, the Bank appears to have made good progress. Handed new powers, there have been no further banking casualties. Notable battles over how much capital lenders should pile on their balance sheet show the Old Lady's willingness to bare her teeth.

Where critics say the institution was slow on the uptake when Northern Rock and others were hitting the buffers, Carney's post-Brexit stimulus package was lightning-fast whether the economy required it or not.

Progress on the second challenge is less clear. The Governor unleashed management consultants on the Threadneedle Street institution so that three years ago this week he could unveil his modernising One Bank strategy. "It is not just our governance but also our commitment to transparency and openness that must be further enhanced," he said.

That plan gave the Court of the Bank of England in effect, its board of directors greater oversight of policy and conduct. Further changes have followed.

Only last May, the Bank of England and Financial Services Act permitted the National Audit Office to undertake value-for-money reviews of the Bank as well as making the Court a more focused, unitary board.

And yet, amid this crusade of scrupulousness, a serious blunder has emerged. Elevated to the post of Deputy Governor earlier this month, Charlotte Hogg not only failed to disclose that her brother has a senior role at Barclays one of the institutions she regulates but misled the Treasury Select Committee when quizzed about the matter. "I am in compliance with all of our codes of conduct. I know that; I helped to write them," she said in one testy exchange.

In the grovelling letter that followed, Hogg admitted that she had not formally declared her brother's role before joining the Bank as chief operating officer four years ago or at any point until she flagged it in a questionnaire to the committee before the hearing. This after giving some woolly answers to select committee chairman Andrew Tyrie and colleagues about what she had discussed with whom and whether she might need to recuse herself from the Bank's Prudential Regulation Committee if Barclays were to crop up in conversation. …

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