Simon Culhane: the City’s Dad’s Army
Eighty years ago, as an isolated Britain faced the threat of invasion, old soldiers volunteered to form the Home Guard. And we’ve been watching repeats of the sitcom about this “Dad’s Army” almost ever since. But it seems to have inspired the City of London Police and the Chartered Institute for Securities & Investment to create a 21st-century equivalent. With the UK outside of EU initiatives on tackling financial crime, the force is inviting retired members of CISI to help defend the City against cyber attack.
Simon Culhane, who runs the institute, is playing the part of the TV show’s Captain Mainwaring (minus the pomposity), rallying former finance professionals to fight against fraud. But the real recruiting sergeant has been whoever scrapped the rule requiring volunteers to be as fit as full-time constables. That means even genteel Private Godfrey types can sign up — which may explain why 125 were on parade at the first virtual meeting. All together now: “Who do you think you are kidding, Mr Hacker, if you think we’re on the run . . . ”
Vernon Hill: a dog’s life for Duffy?
When Vernon Hill stepped down as Metro Bank chairman last year, both he and his beloved companion may have hoped for a comfortable retirement. So, too, his wife Shirley. But it seems the once inseparable Vernon and his Yorkshire terrier Sir Duffield II could find life rather different from now on. According to South Florida Real Estate News, Hill has just acquired a 5,400 sq ft waterfront pad in South Palm Beach for $10m.
Built by luxury home “artist” Frank McKinney, the five-bedroom residence boasts “11,000 year-old azure-blue lava kitchen countertops”. So plenty of scope to accommodate Sir D, and prepare his Pedigree Chum. However, a rather more sinister feature of the house might give Duffield paws for thought. Apparently, 3492 South Ocean Boulevard also includes a huge sphere-shaped tank filled with jellyfish. Could it be that Vernon has shifted his affections from the canine bank-branch visitor to a swarm of scyphozoa? For Duffy’s sake, we hope not.
Kenny Alexander: too canny for Killie?
Kenny Alexander’s surprise retirement as boss of bookie GVC might give City shareholders cause for concern — but Kilmarnock football supporters cause for excitement. He says four months locked down in his native Scotland made him want to “give some time to my family”.
Fans of Killie, the club he’s supported man and boy, may hope that includes them, and he can give money as well as time. However, his fellow Scot and former oppo Ralph Topping — ex-boss of William Hill — thinks Kenny’s too canny. Topping, a former chair of the Scottish Professional Football League, recently wrote to his friend, joking about the perils of football investment. He doubts Alexander would ever risk his cash. “He always invites me to Gleneagles for a coffee, and leaves me with the bill,” Topping laughs. “And that’s in the clubhouse where a coffee is the best part of a tenner. He’s never paid for one in his life!”.
Erica Arnold: hasta la vista, Aviva
Doors revolve quickly at Aviva. Last week, chief exec Maurice Tulloch departed after a year in the job, to be replaced by non-exec Amanda Blanc. Now chief operating officer Erica Arnold is on the way out — having only come into the role in January. Returning to head office from Aviva’s Irish business is Nick Amin, who used to be . . . chief operations and IT officer. It’s enough to make you dizzy . . .
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