UK

Ross McEwan And Mark Carney: Are British Bankers Not Fit For The Top?

02/08/2013 12:43 BST | Updated 02/08/2013 13:41 BST
PA
A Union Jack piggy bank lays broken on the day the UK officially went into recession.

The Royal Bank Of Scotland revealed today that New Zealander Ross McEwan would take over from Yorkshireman Stephen Hester as chief executive on October 1.

RBS' announcement comes weeks after the Canadian Mark Carney took over at the Bank Of England as its first foreign governor in its 319-year history.

McEwan's appointment has been widely welcomed with the expectation he would provide a nice and competent "safe pair of hands".

Ukip also congratulated McEwan on the post, saying: "Another Commonwealth type, good. It shows that the UK is a global player not hung up with parochial European obsessions."

"Britain is, was and must remain open to the wealth of talent from around the world."

London's accessibility to international talent means it hasn't just thrived on the Commonwealth for top banking talent. Lloyds' Banking Group chief executive Antonio Horta-Osorio was born in Portugal, while Santander UK's chief executive, Ana Maria Botin, is Spanish. Although in Santander's case, it is rather unsurpising given the banking group is Spanish.

Does the City of London's wealth of international talent show up how capable British bankers could be? Recent examples haven't seen British bankers shower themselves with glory.

Scotsman Fred Goodwin's mismanagement of the Royal Bank of Scotland before the 2008 financial crash led to him being stripped of his knighthood which he had been awarded for "services to banking".

Sunderland-born Adam Applegarth's time as chief executive of Northern Rock saw it experience a run on the bank in 2007, the first time it had happened to a UK bank in over 100 years.

British businessmen James Crosby, Andy Hornby and Dennis Stevenson came to be blamed by MPs for a "colossal failure" of management when at the helm of HBOS, following its collapse as then the UK's fifth-biggest bank.

Meanwhile at the Bank of England, British deputy governor Paul Tucker was set to be crowned governor after Mervyn King left, until he got bogged down fending off questions over his role overseeing the Libor lending rates. Instead the crown went to Mark Carney.

mark carney paul tucker Mark Carney (l) and Paul Tucker (r)

British bankers shouldn't abandon all hope of ever reaching the top. International talent won't guarantee a smooth ride for the bank.

American Bob Diamond's management of Barclays led to his downfall over questions of his involvement in the Libor-fixing scandal.

British bankers are putting a brave face on McEwan's appointment to the top of RBS. A British Bankers' Association spokesperson tells the Huffington Post UK: “It is testimony to the UK, and to London as its financial centre, that the sector continues to attract the best talent from home and around the world.”

The takeover of many top British banking jobs by international high-flyers perhaps just shows that the City of London knows the best talent doesn't have to be local.