New cause: complaints
With Brexit getting done — at least as far as the UK government is concerned — that vocal opponent of exiting the EU, Gina Miller, is now trying to prevent other economic harms. As well as campaigning to have crowdfunding platforms police their misuse by criminals, she is also seeking a better system for complaining about City regulators. This week, Miller joined a Zoom-call symposium aimed at preventing a change to the complaints procedure that would cap compensation for watchdog errors at £10,000. Organised by the Transparency Task Force, an online community group, the event attracted support from Anthony Stansfeld, police commissioner for Thames Valley — the force that prosecuted the HBOS Reading bank fraud. Symposium rules demanded that criticism of the regulators be “constructive” and not simply “attack, attack, attack” — a message only slightly undermined by a graphic depicting the financial services industry as an untamed 12-headed hydra, and one speaker suggesting Financial Conduct Authority staff be charged with “malfeasance in public office”. But perhaps most awkward for the regulator was Miller’s call to have a consultation on the complaints changes halted until three independent reports on FCA performance are published. City Insider is told the consultation will take all views into account, so stopping it is not necessary. But the FCA might want to call its lawyers — because if there’s one thing Miller knows about it’s suspending a process. Or should that be “proroguing” it? Er, in this case, probably not . . .
Sir Donald Brydon
Time for Tide
Having spent 20 years at Barclays, chaired the London Stock Exchange and reimagined the audit profession, you’d think Sir Donald Brydon might want to slow down. Instead, this week, he became chairman of fast-growing business banking platform, Tide. But will the former host of the LSE’s legendary 200-person lunches, where the chancellor of the exchequer was merely the entertainment, fit in at a fintech where sarnies and £60m fundraisings are more the norm? Seemingly, yes, and not just because he looks forward to less “pompous” prandial arrangements. Sir Donald reminds City Insider that he is as much a techie as a grandee. For nearly nine years, he has been focused on small businesses’ IT needs, as head of the board at software group Sage. He was such a financial innovator at Barclays’ BZW arm in the 80s that he was described as “the father of index funds outside America”. And he started out writing code as an Edinburgh student. “You put the program on punched cards . . . and after seven days you’d get a printout back saying ‘Error in Line 3’!” he laughs. With Tide aiming to double its market share to 8 per cent by 2023, the development schedule may be more exacting these days. Still, Sir Donald seems glad of it. “I have a lot of friends who now mainly play golf,” he says. “And the more they tell me how much they enjoy it, the more I think they don’t really believe it.”
Bridging the Lap
As British Airways attracts censure for paying boss Willie Walsh a bonus while drawing on government Covid support, City Insider has been sent news of another air transport veteran with higher approval ratings. A press release from Rovaniemi, “the official hometown of Santa Claus” says the Lapland tourism industry has been “planning safe travel corridors to enable Finland to be open”. A welcome message for those hoping to visit, or receive an airborne delivery, in a few months’ time.
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