The waiting Dame
There are certain people you should never keep waiting — as they will only consider lateness the height of bad manners. Former High Court judges, for example. Or Dame Commanders of the Order of the British Empire. Or old girls of Roedean.
So it was perhaps unwise of Charles Randell, chair of the Financial Conduct Authority, to cause delay to Elizabeth Gloster, who happens to be all three. Liz (as Randell dares address her) has been trying for months to complete a report into the regulator’s handling of the London Capital & Finance mini bond scandal, in which investors lost £236m. But she has been made to wait for crucial information on more than one occasion. Last December she wrote expressing “concerns over the time it was taking . . . to progress document and information requests”.
In June she complained that “but for the FCA’s delays . . . my team and I would currently have been engaged in finalising the report”. This week, she appeared to have lost her patience. Writing to Randell to explain why her work had been held up for the umpteenth time, she said: “You stated that the FCA’s data assurance work had ‘resulted in some limited additional documentation being identified’ . . . I do not consider the production of approximately 3,500 documents on 17 July to constitute ‘limited additional documentation’.” And in case Randell was in any doubt about her mood, she added: “It is unacceptable that your team is still identifying errors in its disclosure of documents . . . ensure that these issues are addressed immediately.” Best not leave that request in the “pending” tray, then . . .
When trying to combat wrongdoing in financial services, a consumer awareness campaign fronted by a global celebrity can prove effective. Especially if that celebrity has a memorable catchphrase. When Hollywood hero Arnold Schwarzenegger was hired to remind borrowers they could claim compensation for mis-sold payment protection insurance, another 5m did so. Doubtless, just the sound of Arnie’s voice inspired them all to say “hasta la vista” to their costly policies and “I’ll be back” for a refund.
So, who better to warn savers about the £30m lost in dodgy pension transfers than, er, football commentator Clive Tyldesley. He has been chosen to reinforce the message that when dealing with valuable pensions, as opposed to valuable footballers, there is no “transfer deadline” (geddit?). But City Insider wonders if he has the requisite catchphrase to get that across. Tyldesley’s most memorable lines from the commentary box include such classics as “Many of the Iranian players have their Christian names on their shirts”. However, his best known observation is probably: “Samuel Eto’o is reputedly the highest-paid player in the world at £350,000 per week — that's £5,000 a day.” Not ideal when you’re trying to make people more financially savvy.
Pearson’s news manager
Pearson’s newly appointed boss, Andy Bird, may be glad that his predecessor, John Fallon, is staying on as an adviser. With the education group — and one-time owner of the Financial Times — being dragged into the English exam grades controversy, Bird could do with an ally well versed in news management. Fallon honed his PR skills as director of corporate affairs for Powergen in the 1990s before becoming Pearson’s head of communications. But his greatest success in keeping a lid on a story was when negotiating to sell the FT in 2015. So successful was he at keeping journalists in the dark that City Insider recalls colleagues pitching ideas to him just weeks before he disposed of the paper. Bird, like Pearson’s customers, has much to learn.
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