Bank of England Picks Sapphire Partners to Lead Search for Governor

Financial banking giant is hoping that a new governor, perhaps a female, probably from outside, can help right the ship after the organization faced criticism over a lack of diversity. The bank has turned to a boutique search firm that focuses on finding diverse leaders to lead its recruiting efforts. Let’s go inside this important search.

May 15, 2019 – The U.K. government has hired Sapphire Partners, a London-based executive search firm, to help find a new governor for the Bank of England. The recruitment firm, which focuses on finding diverse talent, is the first agency ever hired to find someone for the governor role.

Enlisting Sapphire Partners raises the likelihood that that the U.K. wants a woman for the role, a response to criticism over a lack of gender diversity in the government. “The use of a firm of headhunters for the first time implies the chancellor is keen for this to be a wide sweep of talent in what is, after all, the world’s financial capital, and he is under pressure to consider more female candidates,” wrote Darshini David, economics correspondent for the BBC, on the broadcaster’s website. “And, as with the incumbent, the search could go beyond our borders.”

Mark Carney, who has held the position for six years, will step down at the end of January.

Leading the assignment for Sapphire Partners are founder Kate Grussing, director Sally Springbett and associate director Caroline Turner.

A Vital Role

“Finding a candidate with the right skills and experience to lead the Bank of England is vital for ensuring the continuing strength of our economy and for maintaining the U.K.’s position as a leading global financial center,” said chancellor of the exchequer Philip Hammond.

The governor of the Bank of England chairs the bank’s three major policy committees – the Monetary Policy Committee, the Financial Policy Committee and the Prudential Regulation Committee. As such, the governor plays a central role in setting monetary, macro-prudential and micro-prudential policy, according to a government posting for the role. The individual also has senior responsibility for resolution policy and the supervision of financial market infrastructure. In addition, the governor has senior responsibilities for the bank’s culture, the production and integrity of the bank’s financial information, and the development of the business model and strategy.

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Candidates are expected to commit to an eight-year term.

The governor is the bank’s principal communicator on all policy matters and accountability to Parliament, which takes the form of frequent appearances before the Treasury Select Committee. Outside Parliament, the governor will be expected to explain the bank’s policy positions to diverse audiences in order to build and retain public confidence in the bank’s functions, to provide assurance to domestic and international markets, and to maintain the transparency of the bank’s decision-making.

The Key Representative

The governor is the bank’s primary representative at international policy fora, with the opportunity to shape and influence discussions, particularly relating to the international financial regulatory reform agenda. The governor is also the bank’s official representative at meetings of the G7, G20, the Bank for International Settlement, and (as alternate governor) at the International Monetary Fund.

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The successful candidate must demonstrate the ability to successfully lead, influence and manage a complex and powerful financial institution, inspiring confidence and credibility within the bank, throughout financial markets, in the wider public arena and on the international stage. The individual must also have a broad range of capabilities, ranging from macroeconomics, to understanding developments in, and the structure of, financial markets, to macro-prudential and micro-prudential supervision.

Would-be candidates must further have substantial experience working at the most senior level in a major bank or other financial institution or of working in, or involvement with, central banking (e.g. the Bank for International Settlements or the International Monetary Fund).

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Extensive knowledge and experience of financial markets and their risk cultures is also a requirement for the role. Candidates must be credible on both microeconomic and macroeconomic issues, domestically and internationally.

Committed to Diversity

Sapphire Partners, founded in 2005, works to promote and bring diverse professional talent to its clients. The firm’s expertise includes executive search, board appointments and consultancy. Sapphire Partners works across a number of sectors with a particular strength in financial and professional services on local, European and international searches. Its clients include: Grosvenor, the Royal Bank of Scotland, Good Energy, Credit Suisse, American Express, Microgen and McKinsey & Company, among others.

Ms. Grussing has worked internationally in senior positions at JPMorgan, McKinsey & Company and Morgan Stanley. Her career and functional expertise is in strategy, corporate governance, corporate finance, talent management, financial services, professional services and diversity and inclusion.

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Ms. Springbett’s experience in the executive search industry spans more than 15 years, with roles at Ridgeway Partners, Russell Reynolds Associates, Whitehead Mann and GKR, focusing primarily on international financial services and board level recruitment.

Ms. Turner has served as a research and organizational development consultant for over 20 years, for clients in private, public and non-profit sectors across a broad spectrum of industries, in the U.K. and wider Europe. She has led a range of executive development programs and has particular expertise in gender diversity and inter-cultural business.

Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor; and Andrew W. Mitchell, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media

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