Walker lambasts old boys culture

THE City grandee leading a review of financial regulation aimed at preventing another financial crisis has attacked an &ldquo;old boys&rdquo; culture in City boardrooms and backed calls for M&amp;S to overhaul its controversial leadership structure.<br /><br />Former investment banker Sir David Walker said companies needed to change the way their boards were run to ensure chairmen and chief executives act independently of each other. He said if companies were to &ldquo;banish this old boys club atmosphere, I think boards would work differently.&rdquo; &ldquo;We need to change the culture,&rdquo; Walker said. &ldquo;Boards are not golf club committees, they are challenging environments.&rdquo;<br /><br />Marks &amp; Spencer has courted controversy by combining the positions of chairman and chief executive in an executive chairman role, held by Sir Stuart Rose. Walker declined to comment on the M&amp;S situation. But he said City guidelines that outline the need to separate the two roles were correct.<br /><br />&ldquo;The code of corporate governance in the UK is absolutely right to say normal practice is to keep the role of chairman separate from the role of chief executive,&rdquo; he told City A. M. after giving evidence to the House of Commons Treasury committee on his review of banks and financial institutions. <br /><br />Walker said it was important to have a &ldquo;dynamic tension&rdquo; between chairman and chief executive, with the chairman playing a watchdog-style role. <br /><br />Committee member Andrew Tyrie, Conservative MP for Chichester, said after the meeting that chairmen are currently under pressure to steer board meetings towards what their chief executives wanted.