The chair of retail investment firm AJ Bell quit her role today after the City watchdog blocked plans to appoint founder Andy Bell to a board position when he steps down as chief executive at the end of this month.
Bell announced he would be retiring as chief executive of the firm in June after 27 years at the helm, handing over the reins to Michael Summersgill who was previously CFO and had been groomed for the leadership role.
But the firm said this morning that the Financial Conduct Authority blocked plans for Bell to take a board seat at the firm.
In a statement this morning, AJ Bell said the regulator had cited the need for a “clear distinction” between the executive and non-executive roles after Bell steps down, and warned of a “risk to effective board governance that would arise if a founder CEO with a significant shareholding remained on the board after stepping down as CEO.”
The move by the watchdog has now spurred chair of the firm Helena Morrissey to quit her role after just nine-months.
“I felt it was the right thing to do to step aside and let the board draw a line under this,” she told The Financial Times
Bell will retain a significant stake in the firm, and AJ Bell’s board said today he will hold the right to nominate a non-executive director to represent his interests as a major shareholder.
He said today he accepted the regulators ruling and will continue “supporting the business in the most effective way I can”.
The decision to block Bell’s appointment came as the City watchdog gave the green light for Summersgill to take over as chief of the firm from the 1st October under the Senior Managers & Certification Regime.