Movers and shakers

A Street sign of the times
Is it a sign of the times that Alison Hutchinson used to run Kensington mortgages as managing director while her replacement under the new Investec regime, Keith Street, has the title of head of Kensington? Prior to his appointment at the beginning of March, Street (pictured right) was director of sales at Kensington for six years. According to Kensington’s PR team, “with nearly 20 years in the mortgage industry”, he has “all the experience and expertise necessary to lead the lender through the current trading environment and take advantage of market recovery”.

The appointment is part of the continuing integration of Kensington with Investec. Thus, while Street will have direct responsibility for sales, marketing, new business operations, underwriting, customer management and IT, other elements of the business, such as treasury, legal and compliance, HR and finance, are being integrated within Investec.

Street acknowledged the market was going through hard times but added that the business had taken steps to develop products, introduce a case booking system and launch a distribution panel to adapt to the current conditions. “So you can be sure that when conditions do improve, Kensington will be right there at the forefront of the specialist mortgage market,” he declared.

Hoping for quit on the Northern front?
Another sign of the times is the way news of what happened to the Financial Services Authority’s supervisory team that looked after Northern Rock eventually became public.

Actually, not that much has happened to them, although five of the seven have quit. But we wouldn’t have known even that if The Times hadn’t invoked the Freedom of Information Act to find out.

According to its news report on 10 March, none of the departing FSA officials appears to have been dismissed, because none had been paid compensation. The report suggested that one leader of the regulator’s Northern Rock team took his leave after being passed over for promotion.

The report said the seven unnamed officials worked on the Rock in the 19 months before its disaster. “Some were thought to have left the FSA before the catastrophe, and high turnover of FSA staff may have been one of the reasons for the failings. Northern Rock had not been the subject of a full supervisory health check for 18 months when it imploded, the FSA admitted to MPs.”

The price of failure
Not quite contrary to our theme of sign of the times is an illustration of the wages of failure these days. This concerns the exit from the FSA of Clive Briault. He is the only high profile regulator connected with the fall of the Rock to get the chop, albeit with a £380,000 payoff to cushion the blow and a commensurate pension pot to boot.

Briault who is to leave the FSA “by mutual agreement at the end of April”, headed the authority’s division responsible for regulating banks and just last year was being tipped as a possible contender to replace John Tiner for top job as chief executive that eventually went to Hector Sants.

David Kenmir is to take on Briault’s role as managing director of the retail business unit, in an acting capacity. The post is also being advertised externally and internally. Kathleen Reeves, HR director, is taking on Kenmir’s current role as chief operating officer, also in an acting capacity.

Putting its house in order
Sants is also trying to strengthen the FSA’s capacity in the key areas of large retail group supervision and financial stability and has decided to allocate dedicated directors for these sectors.

“David Strachan,” he said, “will concentrate solely on his role as financial stability sector leader. He will join the chief executive’s office alongside Thomas Huertas. Clive Adamson will then take on the role of director of major retail groups, again in an acting capacity. These will be effective from 7 April. This role will also be advertised externally and internally immediately.”

Earlier in March the FSA confirmed that it had appointed Colin Lawrence as director of its newly created prudential risk division, and Paul Sharma as director of wholesale and prudential policy.

Lawrence is joining the FSA this month, giving up his role of the leader of GBS risk management and compliance, Greater China Group and Asia Pacific, at IBM. Prior to working at IBM he was a managing director at both Barclays Capital and UBS.

Sharma currently heads the FSA’s risk review department and has previously been head of prudential policy and an insurance supervisor.

Moves for Freedom
Tony Machin has taken over the role of chief executive of Wilmslow-based mortgage and loans broker Freedom Finance Group from Rupert Webb who set up the business in 1983.

Machin joined Freedom in 2000 as commercial director, following the acquisition of a 55% stake in the business by JZI International – a deal which he structured as a manager at global investment bank NM Rothschild. He went on to become group managing director in April 2005, allowing Webb to take on a more strategic position.

Machin has driven the company’s successful expansion into Europe, with Freedom Finance becoming the first UK financial services business to launch in Spain in 2002 and subsequently acquiring Swedish, Irish and Norwegian operations.

His responsibilities also include Mortgage Next, the group’s specialist UK intermediary network, club and packaging business.

Machin said the firm was still committed to a strategic programme of European expansion and are looking at potential targets in Poland, France, Finland and Denmark.

He added: “The UK intermediary market also remains an important sector for us and we have plans to strengthen our presence in this market via our specialist business, Mortgage Next.”

Webb will retain his 40% stake in the group and will move into the role of group deputy chairman in addition to being chairman of all overseas businesses. His main responsibility will identifying and negotiating further expansion opportunities in Europe. Machin will then establish, develop and oversee these businesses, taking overall operational control.

Pink makes changes at the top
A recent majority shareholding investment in BDS saw Pink announce changes to its executive team. Barry Meeks is now chief executive of the Pink group which comprises Pink and BDS. He will oversee business strategy, while David Copland is now Pink’s managing director and will oversee the day-to-day running of the company.

Lisa Hurley, formerly associate director, is now director of finance – an expanded role that includes responsibility for commercial relationships with many of Pink’s suppliers and overseeing BDS’s finances.

Nigel Dickens, formerly Pink’s management accountant, is following in Hurley’s footsteps and has assumed the position of financial controller.