Vernon Hill: Metro moves
Vernon Hill was the brash American shaking up the UK banking scene. Metro Bank, the company he founded, wants to be “a different kind of high street bank”, one more attuned to the modern day than the other out-of-touch fuddy-duddies of the British high street. Mr Hill is now off — he stepped down as chairman with immediate effect on Wednesday — and one might have expected the bank to pick another rebel to keep the cause alive. Instead, with the temporary promotion of its senior independent director to the chairmanship, Metro could hardly have made a more traditional choice. Few outside the financial district will know Michael Snyder, who in his professional career headed mid-market accountants Kingston Smith. But Sir Michael has credentials of the sort that would be valued anywhere in the City. For five years, he was de facto head of the City of London Corporation, the district local authority. He is also a past Master of the Worshipful Company of Needlemakers, one of the London livery companies and is the current Metropolitan Grand Master, aka London’s top Freemason. A different kind of high-street bank, perhaps, but for now at least, the same kind of leadership.
Harriet Green: old boys snub
MPs on the business, energy and industrial strategy committee have been picking over the wreckage after travel agency Thomas Cook collapsed. Former boss Harriet Green managed to stick the boot into both her predecessor and successor during questioning by the committee on Wednesday, despite admitting for the first time that she was kicked out by chairman Frank Meysman. Ms Green, who had a background in the electronics industry, lasted just 28 months as chief executive of Thomas Cook between 2012 and 2014. That was apparently enough: after two years the board was ready “to return to more traditional, travel-oriented leadership”, according to Ms Green. That went well.
Christopher Woolard: lightly grilled
Christopher Woolard, executive director of strategy and competition at the Financial Conduct Authority, had a slightly tricky time with the future of regulation when he gave a speech on the subject at strategy outfit Cicero Group on Monday. Before Mr Woolard had even made it to the Old Bailey, where Cicero’s offices are located, he was in trouble. His daughter had given him some flak at home, he said, for the bad language in the title of a book he had ordered in preparation for the event. F**k Business was written by Cicero executive chairman Iain Anderson about Brexit and the title references a comment famously made by Boris Johnson last year before he became PM. It didn’t get any easier for Mr Woolard from there. The toughest question he faced was from a representative of insurer Royal London, who asked him whether, as scandals at London Capital & Finance, Park First and Woodford had played out in the media, the press was not doing a better job of regulating than the regulator. Mr Woolard disagreed. For the FCA to bring a prosecution, “proper evidence” was required, he said.
Peer-to-peer: asset allocation
Whatever the future of regulation does hold, peer-to-peer lenders are likely to stay squarely in the watchdog’s sights. Details of the assets used as security for loans made by peer-to-peer company FundingSecure, which collapsed this week, give a flavour of why. Alongside barn conversions, Picasso paintings and classic cars, a forum administered by FundingSecure staff lists some more recherché items. A ride-on toy Mercedes encrusted with 38,000 Swarovski crystals valued at £2,500 and a copy of the Magna Carta engraved in the 18th century and complete with chipped paint and pin holes that is estimated to be worth £10,000. But perhaps the most surprising item was a domain name — “disrupting.com” — which was valued at £20,000-£35,000 and used as security for a £10,000 FundingSecure loan.
Patrick Jenkins is away
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