BBC BLOGS - Peston's Picks
« Previous | Main | Next »

Who'll boss our banks?

Robert Peston | 11:00 UK time, Tuesday, 28 July 2009

John Kingman is to quit as chief executive of UK Financial Investments, the arm of the Treasury that manages taxpayers' huge holdings in Royal Bank of Scotland and Lloyds.

Some would say that Kingman is the most powerful public official in the UK, in that UKFI is also taking over responsibility for Northern Rock.

There'll be some surprise that he is choosing to stand down. But he's wanted to move into the private sector for a couple of years - and said as much to the Treasury's permanent secretary, Nick Macpherson, last summer.

Kingman felt unable to leave UKFI till it was properly established. That, in his view, is now done, with today's announcement that David Cooksey is to become chairman of UKFI.

Cooksey is a private-equity pioneer (he founded Advent and worked there for 25 years) who knows Gordon Brown well, but is not regarded as a ministerial patsy.

His first task will be to find a replacement for Kingman. Although Kingman himself worked at the Treasury for many years and was latterly the number two there, the successful candidate is unlikely to come from the public sector, since Kingman's financial skills are not widespread in Whitehall.

Kingman however is paid as a senior civil servant. Any private-sector replacement would receive many hundreds of thousand pounds more.

His departure is bound to be seen as part of a trend of individuals close to the prime minister who are leaving government and the public sector.


  • Comment number 1.

    Another one leaves the sinking ship.........

  • Comment number 2.

    So he'll move into the private sector and doubtless get paid a fortune, much more than he earns as a civil servant, and at the same time to replace him, UKFI will have to recruit from the private sector and therefore will be forced to pay much more than they currently pay Kingman and thereby establishing new pay grades for similar civil servants.
    And the gravy train just keeps on running.....sigh

  • Comment number 3.

    Rats will always abandon a sinking ship, but in all fairness the team Kingman has created is already in place, his job is done. I am not at all convinced that a 'Boss' is anymore than a fallguy ir things go wrong anyway. Maybe I will learn more here.

  • Comment number 4.

    Judging by how effective the UKFI has been so far in terms of changing bonus-driven attitudes within banks and forcing taxpayer owned banks to lend reasonably instead of foreclosing, repossessing and profiteering, we might as well not have had a Chief Executive of UKFI and not bother appointing a vastly overpaid, ineffective new one.
    Caledonian Comment

  • Comment number 5.

    These "financial skills" you mention Robert. What exactly are they?
    Psychology of mass hysteria perhaps?

  • Comment number 6.

    Not sure what to think about this resignation. Are UKFI doing a half-decent job? Is Mr Kingman any good at this particular task? Has he set up an organisation fit for the purpose of properly and robustly looking after taxpayers' interests? I've not seen UKFI calling the shots very loudly. They seem to be nodding through anything the bankers put to them, otherwise why would Mr Darling have to force the bank chiefs to a meeting yesterday?

  • Comment number 7.

    I think every individual in government, politics and the citizenry of this nation would be best advised to distance themselves from Gordon Brown.

  • Comment number 8.

    The problem with this job is that it's a stint, get the banks back on their feet and then sell them off to shore up public accounts. Who's going to want a job that will, by its nature, be smaller in a few years?

    In the civil service you just move on to the next assignment but it makes no sense to jump from the private sector to the public sector and then work your way out of a job again.

  • Comment number 9.

    The general tone of the posts so far imply that higher salary = better. Unfortunately the events of the last 12-18 months tell us this is incorrect.

    The pessimism implied is unfounded for at least 2 reasons:

    1. If well paid = good we would be looking for help from Fred the Shred and NOBODY with any talent would ever get involved with politics (I'm not suggesting they're all the cream of the crop - just that their salary & benefits package isn't indicative of talent) or work as a doctor, for example

    2. We might benefit from recruiting a mature, experienced hand at the helm who has already made his pile and is no longer motivated by money alone but by the challenge of doing what is needed for the good of the country. You may find it difficult to believe but people like this DO exist

    Half of the country's problems at present are a result of over pessimism and a fatalistic "We're all doomed" mentality. If we can start to sort that out with the right appointment of a successor to John Kingman then so much the better

  • Comment number 10.

    Why do we have to have yet another overpaid member of the private sector finance club. We want the grit in the oyster, someone who will frighten the horses and a senior public servant with secure tenure and pension with the right backing from the politicians could do the job - but that's not what we want says Gordon.
    Alternatively find a naughty boy who does not share the ethos of city types. Alright Vince Cable is not available but what about Will Hutton?

  • Comment number 11.

    I love the title of this institution: UK Financial Investments! So the taxpayer decided to participate in the Cty boom and made some shrewd purchases in the financial sector with a view to future profits which would improve the public finances no end.

    No wonder the man wants to leave: he did his duty, set up the institution amongst muck and bullets and now he has had enough and wants to go an earn some money before he retires as no doubt his public sector pension will be cut back along with everyone else's. I don't blame him at all.

    What should be concerning us is the stability of this organisation that has been cobbled together by a frantic and incompetent government with an instruction to get the banks to lend more money at the same time as rebuilding their balance-sheets. As we know these objectives are in conflict and are proving a bit self-defeating.

    We should be concerning ourselves as to the fiscal leadership of our country which has been progressively becoming a shambles for the last twelve years. This government inherited a reasonably functioning economy and has managed to implode the lot.

    I am not that concerned about these individuals who head this or that institution. They are of little consequence in the great scheme of things. What does matter though is a wrecked and demoralised Civil Service, a public sector in organisational and financial crisis, an economy which is still shrinking and a war we are failing to win because we can't be bothered.

    Time for the government to spend more time with its voters, methinks. Time for change!

  • Comment number 12.

    Gosh - it's all change at UKFI. This bastion of the financial services establishment is taking over as Chair.

    Sir David Cooksey is Chairman of London & Continental Railways Ltd and of Eurasian Natural Resources Corporation plc. Having started his career as an engineer he held a number of management positions in business before forming Advent Venture Partners, one of the first venture capital firms in the UK, in 1981. He remained Chairman of Advent until September 2006 and has held a number of other senior positions in the private and public sectors including Chairman of the Audit Commission, Director of the Bank of England and Governor of the Wellcome Trust. He was knighted in 1993 and appointed a Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the British Empire (GBE) in 2007.

  • Comment number 13.

    Wanted : Brass Necked Individual

    Salary : TBC but lots of benefits to follow

    Job Description : Must explain to 65m people why they must pay taxes for centuries to come whilst the value of their "investment" has shrunk to nothing on the world markets.

  • Comment number 14.

    If the banks are bailed out by Government using taxpayers money should the shareholders of the banks be in a position to get money for their shares, the bank having been saved from extinction in which their shares would have no value. I think this what the UKFI is there for

  • Comment number 15.

    There is something quite sickening about the way that people are going out of their way to get a private sector job before GB sinks.

    I refer here to Gordon Brown sinking rather than Great Britain, although he has done his best to make the two synonymous.

    I guess if you are happy to allow the Civil Service to be politicised by snuggling up to Meddlesome or El Gordo then you must expect the chop when the Labour Party is finally confined to the home for the totally incompetent and bewildered.

    Roll on next May!

  • Comment number 16.

    I would like to be the boss of our banks.
    If I was, they would have to adhere to strict lending criteria....rules which prevent senseless asset-price bubbles.
    All foreign banks operating in the UK would have to follow the same regulations.
    Credit card, personal loan and store card information would have to be pooled, and personal limits applied.
    All banks operating in the UK would have to use different divisions for different risks, and it would be made very clear that the UK public will ONLY guarantee the UK retail and savings area.
    Bank directors contracts would contain PENALTY clauses for major losses, not just reductions in the value of their shares, but real financial penalties against their salaries, bonuses and assets, just like any other businessman.
    And financial workers would not be able to "earn" a country estate and several Ferraris in one would take them a decade or more, just like the rest of the population. Incentives would still apply, but sensible incentives, so that workers cannot "take the money and run".
    Profits would have to be "proven by time" before any incentives schemes are paid out.
    New-Labours' pathetic doctrine that "we would not get the right staff" is clearly shown to be rubbish....the best brains would still be queueing round the block to get the City jobs.
    And every effort would be made to make these regulations fully international.....everyone operating on the same playing field.
    The Europeans would be on-side immediately, and China, Japan and the Far-East must now see the madness of the Wests' unregulated banking system.
    Other parts of the world may be reluctant to regulate, (I wonder why?)

  • Comment number 17.

    David Cooksey's appointment is another example that cronyism is alive and well in New Labour.

    To think Gordon promised us a new beginning that was spin free and promised to avoid the nastyness and cronyism that haunted Tony Blair.

    Plus ca change!

    I agree with some of the earlier posters re rats leaving a sinking ship re John Kingman.

    Anyone want to bet on David Cooksey becoming Sir David or Lord Cooksey in Gordon's resignation honours list when we boot him out next year?

  • Comment number 18.

    Will Hutton is a government shill. Just look at his rambling, shoulder-shrugging and hand-wringing contibutions as a talking head on newsnight. He work for the "Work Foundation" - how Orwellian is that?

  • Comment number 19.

    9. At 11:56am on 28 Jul 2009, flyingjohnny-mc wrote:

    "Half of the country's problems at present are a result of over pessimism and a fatalistic "We're all doomed" mentality. "

    On behalf of the country's pessimists I must disagree with this comment. surely the boom was caused by over-optimistic optimists who actually convinced themselves they managed to tame Capitalism (again) - but unfortunately they were proved wrong (again).

    If half the country's problem is pessimism then the other half must be optimism. However in a world which is flooded with lies from media and politics - who can even tell anymore who is being optimistic and who is being pessimistic?

    The crash didn't happen due to pessimism - pesimissm didn't build overproduce the goods and consumables which now lie dormant at the 'out door' of factories.

    As I have said before - you can keep optimistic, but when the second crash arrives you will be disappointed - where as all pessimists will simply have expected it and it willnot come as a shock.

  • Comment number 20.

    What we need is a skilled bankruptcy practitioner!

    The 'bailed-out' banks would, and indeed should, have been bankrupt, like GM and Chrysler. This process would have ensured that the bad investments still on their books were immediately written down to their market value and then the British economy could have started up again. What we have now is banks burdened by dead assets. Radical action is needed otherwise these walking dead will destroy any green shoots!

  • Comment number 21.

    Anybody with any sense will be putting distance between themselves and Gordo before he gets his final goodbye (why did Sir Alan Sugar decide to get involved one wonders!)UKFI is a best a 2-3 post and I think it will be very hard to get someone of real quality to take this on right now

  • Comment number 22.

    Is he leaving to become the consultant to the company that wants to take UKFI off the hands of the government and pay back some much needed funding into the Treasury coffers?

    I am slightly alarmed that you admit there isn't anyone with the financial acumen in Whitehall to run the project, or is that a slight jibe at Brown?

  • Comment number 23.

    "Kingman however is paid as a senior civil servant. Any private-sector replacement would receive many hundreds of thousand pounds more."

    Senior civil servant is not paid poorly.

    Where is the sense of honour for the opportunity to serve the country and society, without any danger to life and limb and get paid a reasonally good salary ? :-(((

    Examples, examples, examples.

  • Comment number 24.

    To answer the question:-

    40 years ago my father quoted to me


    He was certainly wise if only a humble school caretaker !

  • Comment number 25.

    I'll do it.

  • Comment number 26.

    He mustn't like what he's seen.

    After all a large part of the mess we're in comes from government interference and political manouvering.

    What is the point in bringing in professionals if they are ignored by those who know nothing about the matters they persist on interfering in.

    We have seen a number of these top people come and go so it seems that they have all reported on what they see as having to be done to a PM who doesn't like what they say if it's not what he wants to hear.

    Forever in denial is symptomatic of someone who cannot face up to reality. Pretty frustrating for those who can.

  • Comment number 27.

    #11 stanilic

    "This government inherited a reasonably functioning economy and has managed to implode the lot."

    ...that's not how I remember it - in fact when Blair came to power in 1997 it was because the Toris lost the election - and the number 1 complaint was.........


    It's funny how people remember the past through rose tinted spectacles.

    Anyone who votes for either Labour or Conservative next year in the belief that they will be able to manage the Economy better - is a fool.

    No-one from any main party has got a record that shows good Economic management.
    Individual prime ministers claim to have managed the Economy well (like Thatcher) - but in reality these people left at the right time - and a lot of their good management turned out to be bad management with a time delay.

    If either party gets in next year the British public WILL DESERVE EVERYTHING THEY GET.

  • Comment number 28.

    You should boss them Comrade Peston (Banking Broadcasting Commission, Republicj of Westminster) - you sure write about them enough..


  • Comment number 29.

    Aside from bonuses, how does one tell private from public in the banking sector. Sure the banks are operating as usual, albeit with public funding, but they are rewarding themselves for passing great amounts of private debt onto the public. Having stolen retirement accounts from working people, the bankers retire to the coutnry estates or other countries, this all done under the watchful eyes of the government. Seems like no more than changing hats as the government agencies and the banks having been running the same criminal organization. None of it will matter because the banks now own the government while everyone thinks the government owns the banks. The global banking network has established that they will do what they please and if people lose their accounts so be it as long as the folks at the top can make millions. Until the influence of banks is removed from government and until the government can enforce controls over banks we are all subject to continued embeselment by this unhealthy coalition of money lenders and their governmental agents.

  • Comment number 30.

    Is less than 30 posts in four hours a sign of either

    1) an apathy on behalf of the normal posters that Gordon is merely moving his mates into cushy jobs whilst he can and we didn't expect anything else.


    2) many of the normal hotheads are on holiday. Perhaps they are paid lackeys of one or other political party.

    Gordon seems to have running low on banking mates after Sir Derek Waness and Sir Fred the Shred's last jobs went belly up and had to be rescued by the UK taxpayer.

    Can sonebody remind me but was Sir David invloved in LCR when it had to be rescued by HM Government?

  • Comment number 31.

    So another promoted by default civil servant will take his place and carry on the long tradition of treasury incompetence, (aided and abetted by Brown and Darling ) which got the country into the mess it's in , in the first place. Talk about lemmings jumping over cliffs !

  • Comment number 32.

    writingsonthewall - the Tories lost the last election because of sleaze and corruption and because people wanted "change". TB promised to be "whiter than white" - which he kept up for 8 minutes.

    I agree with your that, whether it be red, blue or orange at the next election it won't make much different.

  • Comment number 33.

    On the subject of who is running the banks it is interesting to note that the new Lloyds Banking Group Cairman (largest shareholder you and I via UKFI) is Sir Wim Bischoff a past Chairman of CitiGroup a bank that had to be rescued not one or twice but three times by the US government.

    He was knighted in 2000 for services to banking no doubt on the advice of the treasury which was led at that time by one Gordon Brown!

  • Comment number 34.

    #30. 2) many of the normal hotheads are on holiday. Perhaps they are paid lackeys of one or other political party.

    Looks to me like Tory central office are well involved on this blog! Maybe they have taken their laptops off to sunny climes & are posting whilst sipping cocktails & plotting the return of the greedier Order to power!

  • Comment number 35.

    Message 27 writingsonthewall

    I must have been at a different election in 1997. I seem to recall we had only 24 hours to save the Health Service and that a small tax increase to improve public services was all that was needed. There was also `education x 3' and the `causes of crime'.

    In my opinion New Labour got elected because the economy was improving. The electorate chose the soft option of New Labour precisely because things can only get better. Remember that: what a laugh, eh!

    Then Mr. Blair and Mr. Brown told us that they had ended Tory boom and bust. Note they only ended Tory boom and bust.

    Sure, the recession in the early Nineties did not help the Tory case but people still voted for them in early 1992. By the time of the ERM debacle later that year they had truly cooked their goose. What people forgot of course by 1997 that whoever was elected in 1992 all the parties; Conservative, Labour & Liberal supported entering the ERM and it would have happened whoever got in.

    You are quite right in your conclusion that whatever government we have, the place still seems to be run by people more noted for their ambition than their ability.

  • Comment number 36.

    comment 9: flyingjohnny-mc.
    How can we avoid pessimism, when the Politicians bury there heads in the sand and there is no legal way to get rid of them. I spend time reading about how our troops are fighting, so that they can have an election in Afganistan and thinking to myself why can't they come back and restore democracy here.
    "The pessimism implied is unfounded for at least 2 reasons:
    1. If well paid = good"
    If you pay peanuts you get monkeys, if the pay is good you get less monkeys, but you have to have people at the top who know whats going on and not be lead around like sheep.
    "Half of the country's problems at present are a result of over pessimism and a fatalistic "We're all doomed" mentality. If we can start to sort that out with the right appointment of a successor to John Kingman then so much the better"
    we are lions lead by Donkeys and until that changes John Kingmans successor wont make any difference at all. I'm pessimistic until the political system is changed, not just which group of underpaid (Until they retire.) Politicians is changed.

  • Comment number 37.

    This isn't pertinent to Robert's article, but his particular piece today is of little or no relevance to most people so here goes..

    You may have noticed that there has been a bump in the road of the New Bull Market today, shares down a bit after substantial recent gains. You know what brought this about? The chairman of BP saying he couldn't see any prospect of an increase in demand for Oil for the time being and the Consumer Confidence index in the US fallng again. The first is a bit of a slap in the face for those who believed that everything will be 'back to normal' in six months or so, the second is yet another example of how economists are perpetually flummoxed at how The Real World doesn't fit in with their sophisticated models, despite the fact that widespread job destruction in the US is THE major factor holding back any economic recovery..Its so obvious its laughable, yet Bloomberg TV keeps bringing on their seemingly never-ending supply of Economics/Finance professors and Fund Managers who claim to be mystified by why near destitute Middle Americans who are up to their eyeballs in debt and largely in fear of losing their jobs and homes aren't out there spending every cent they haven't got on needless fripperies
    They need to get out more, as my mam used to say..

  • Comment number 38.

    This is a classic case of filling the lifeboat before the vortex of change. GB is angling for World bank/IMF post; Blair wants to be Lord and president of EU. the ducks are lining up in a row. Can we frustrate GB and TonyB? Self-protection is rife. A Palace of Westminster coup would be the best thing ever. Don't see a leader in sight though.

  • Comment number 39.

    How about Fred Goodwin!

  • Comment number 40.

    #39 DebtJuggler

    Fred would be ruled out since he knows a little bit about banking.
    We need a total outsider with no experience.

    How about Adam Applegarth?

  • Comment number 41.


    Surely you are the man for the job. You have spent the last 12 months telling us how bad everyone else is and how know one knows what they are doing. However you will need to do it for £50 per week as you do not believe people in such jobs should be paid the salaries they get. May be then we will get a business journalist on this blog who will discuss other things than just what goes on 10 mins from his work place!!!!

  • Comment number 42.

    Robert, as this financial mess is a direct result of a criminal pyramid scheme (the same as it was done in Albania in 1996 - 1997 ;-), the banks should be managed by Crown Prosecution Service and bankers by the Prison Service. It is not an emotive comment.

    Read this submission, published by Treasury Committee, it is detailed by it should give you an idea why the above idea is indeed very reasonable:

  • Comment number 43.


    where do i apply for the job? Surely being an integral part of the banking profession must exclude you from such a position looking after taxpayers 'investments' bailing them out.

    Willing to work 60 hours aweek for 10% of whatever it was the other guy was getting payed.

    no financial experience,

    not leveraged to anyone

    give adamn about joe public.

    I should be good for it...shouldn't I?

    can you direct me to an application form via your contacts.


  • Comment number 44.

    #40 prudeboy

    Adam Crozier ("who's he ?", you might ask)

  • Comment number 45.

    Wasn't he the one who told you about the nationalisation of Bradford and Bingley before the directors of Bradford and Bingley knew ?

  • Comment number 46.

    Well his value in the private sector is high at the moment so why not move now when he can command a higher pay packet.

    Before UKFI have to start really getting there teeth in to the bank we own and stop nodding through high pay deals for the top bankers

  • Comment number 47.

    Dear Robert,

    Who'll boss our banks?
    That must be the most obvious question you ever asked Robert.

    It is no Understatement to state that I would be the most suited
    applicant for this position due to my banking credentials in the
    school of hard knocks. I am a top veteran.

    p.s. I would also like to apply for the the lame duck position of
    BBC's business editor. This would allow me to blog my take on
    the business stories and issues that matter.

    Thanking you
    [My Personal details and ideas were removed and stoled by the
    media student moderators]

  • Comment number 48.

    Lack of post from myself is not due to either of the options.
    More due to my bewilderment of this article and the previous one referring to to the bankers being summoned to Downing St.
    Why was the bankers at Downing St, reported last week. Sounded more like a press release than investigative journalism.
    At first glance, the content of these articles is all very interesting(????), but are they the biggest business stories of the past week?(There's more to Business than Banking, unless you're GB and you're spinning so quickly you've forgotten who you're blaming this week.)
    Not in my view, the only reason I can see for these to be reported with such prominence would be if the author had ambitions of becoming a Govt PR bod?
    Come on Bob, are you playing at political briefings like a four year old plays shops with a plastic cash register, hoping it's a potential role for when you're all grown up?
    For the life of me, I can't see any other reason. If someone on here can, please feel free to explain. But the timing and level of importance of these stories doesn't warrant their presence on here on merit alone.
    Seem politically driven and not business driven.

  • Comment number 49.

    Robert wrote:

    Who'll boss our banks?


    We need someone who can look down on the current crop of senior bankers.

    How about Gary Glitter then!

  • Comment number 50.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 51.

    As the largest shareholder shouldn't the Chairman / CEO of UKF be a sneior director or CEO of the Banks concerned. Unfortunately, as a Civil Servant that isn't possible so let him resign and be re-appointed on the same salary them he can have it topped up by the banks and the problem is solved. As a Public servant he will not, of course, wish to to take the Obscene benifits usually to such a post and they could then be channelled back to the Treasury and cut the burden for the tax payer. It will also have the added benefit of giving him the experience in the private sector which he says he desires.

  • Comment number 52.

    The long and short of banking 'crisis' is that it, like many other of our methods and institutions needs reform. I do not mean tinkering at the edges but total deforestation and re-planting.
    The political and economic organisations and everything sheltering under these, quangoes included, nothing excluded, have to be reconstructed through full involvement of the voting populace and other genuine stakeholders, minors, whos' future we voters ignore.
    The approach has to be one of organising ourselves into a planning team who will kick start the process by proposing aims and objectives that have to be voted for and agreed. This inevitably means looking for suitable governance ideas and so we should be looking for some creative solutions.
    If our combined media will step responsibly up to the plate, then they may be the drivers for change, as they have the means to properly present views and opinions and not just seek market share. A modern media has surely to change its ways to be the responsible body that so many of us seek. So, get together media bosses and do not lose the momentum that was apparent a few short weeks ago, remember, you are in touch despite the summer season.

  • Comment number 53.


    We are having to pay taxes for centuries to come because of the irresponsible behaviour of our highly paid bankers. Apart from a few well known names like Goodwin, they seemed to have escaped public censure.

    I cannot understand why the great British general public have not abandoned the existing banking system and put their money elsewhere. Inertia, probably.

  • Comment number 54.

    so they expect to be paid shedloads of money for public service AND receive honours?!

    A knighthood ought to encourage a bit of work for the good of the country, especially when the recipients are often the very people that dropped us into this great pile of guano....

  • Comment number 55.

    Why would somebody want to work in government or the public sector today when the amount of unfounded acrimonious comment that goes on about you is not reciprocated in financial remuneration. Sir Fred Goodwin took a big pounding but financially he was well rewarded and in a couple of years it will be Sir Fred who? At this time when everybody want's to look and talk tough why would John Kingman want to stay where he is and obviously to get somebody willing to take the flak and insults inspired by the media we will of course have to pay over the odds as only a rue political animal would be so unphased as to do it for less. So John Kingman go and take your rewards while you can, the political wisdom of this country's population does not deserve long service from public servants anymore!

  • Comment number 56.

    Fred Goodwin or James Crosby should be appointed for UKFI. Who better to grow the business?

  • Comment number 57.

    Oh dear, Robert. You can't afford to lose sources like these. How will you keep up your record for 'scoops'? I guess there's an election looming and you are the wrong shade for Cameron and Osborne anyway, I fear.


BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.