Dame Colette Bowe was appointed yesterday to head the new Banking Standards Review Council (BSRC), a body which aims to promote and maintain good behaviour in finance.
The council was set up by former CBI chief Sir Richard Lambert, at the behest of the big banks, as an independent body to monitor behaviour in the wake of mis-selling scandals, Libor manipulation and the financial crisis.
Bank of England governor Mark Carney led the search for a chairman. The appointment panel included the Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Vincent Nichols, philosopher Baroness Onora O’Neill and John Lewis boss Sir Charlie Mayfield.
Banks had been seeking a heavyweight with knowledge of business and regulation, who would not be seen as a soft touch or a sop to the industry.
Bowe has worked in both regulation and in private equity, and met with approval from the British Bankers’ Association – a body with a lobbying, rather than a standards, role.
“Dame Colette’s appointment by a committee headed by Mark Carney demonstrates the importance of the new Banking Standards Review Council. The industry stands ready to assist her to help it bring about the improvements in standards we all want to see.”
Bowe will begin by recruiting a chief executive for the BSRC, and will ask banks and building societies to sign up to the organisation.
After that, the banks will meet regularly with the BSRC to design and stick to a code of conduct aimed at improving the culture of staff at lenders.
“This is a very big challenge but I am confident that we are all ready to give it our best shot,” said Bowe.
“I certainly am and will press on with setting up the BSRC as fast as possible.”
PROFILE: DAME COLETTE BOWE
The new boss of the Banking Standards Review Council is well regarded for her combination of regulatory and business experience.
Bowe has held a series of high-powered positions, with directorships and chief executive positions across the country since the late 1980s.
The first of those really big roles came in 1989 when she became director of retail regulation at the Securities and Investments Board, a predecessor to the Financial Services Authority, responsible for financial markets. She kept this role until 1993.
From 1994 to 1997, she held the position of chief executive of the Personal Investment Authority, a self-regulatory body responsible for the retail investment industry.
She moved across industries in her regulatory capacity, becoming the founding chairman of Telecoms Ombudsman Service in 2002, and of the Ofcom Consumer Panel the following year.
And for much of the decade Bowe, held a series of high-profile, non-executive roles in the private sector.
These include positions at the Yorkshire Building Society, Morgan Stanley Bank International, Axa Investment Managers, London and Continental Railways and Thames Water.
Most recently, she was chairman of Ofcom, from 2009 to 2014, and chairman of Electra Private Equity from 2010 to 2014.