A branch of Metro Bank, High Holborn, London.
Metro Bank became embroiled in a reporting scandal earlier this year © Charlie Bibby/FT

Metro Bank has appointed an audit expert to its board and announced the departure of one of its founding directors, in the latest moves to overhaul its leadership after a year of turmoil.

Ben Gunn, a longtime ally of Metro co-founder Vernon Hill who was named deputy chairman less than a year ago, will step down from the board at the end of this month.

He will be replaced as non-executive director by Sally Clark, a former internal audit chief at Barclays, who previously held senior roles at Royal Bank of Scotland and JPMorgan.

Mr Gunn becomes the fifth member of Metro Bank’s founding team to leave the bank this year, following in the footsteps of its chief executive, chairman and two other non-executive directors.

Investors have long questioned Metro’s governance standards, including a lack of diversity and independence among its non-executives, but criticism increased this year after the bank became embroiled in a reporting scandal.

The revelation that Metro had been miscategorising large numbers of loans hit its capital levels, forced it into an emergency share issue and prompted a near 90 per cent fall in its share price during 2019.

Mr Gunn was appointed to the new role of deputy chair shortly after the reporting error was announced but the move was privately criticised at the time by some investors and senior regulators at the Financial Conduct Authority, who wanted to see a bigger governance shake-up.

Michael Snyder, interim chairman, has since stressed his desire to add more retail banking experience to the bank’s board, and on Monday Metro said it expected to make further appointments next year.

However, the bank still has two directors who have passed the nine-year maximum tenure recommended under the corporate governance code. More than a quarter of shareholder votes opposed the re-election of Stuart Bernau and Eugene Lockhart — who were both members of the bank’s audit and risk oversight committees — at its annual meeting in May.

“Sally brings deep retail banking expertise that will be invaluable to Metro Bank as we enter the next chapter,” Sir Michael said:

Ms Clark said: “Metro Bank has proven itself as a challenger bank committed to bringing something different to banking and really delivering for its customers. I’m very much looking forward to joining the board as we focus on the bank’s future plans and delivering long-term sustainable growth.”

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