Author Ben Leonard

The powerful new super lobbying group – UK Finance (UKF) – had its board members revealed to the general public today, ahead of its official launch later in the month.

What is UK Finance?

UK Finance is the new lobbying group that will represent the British finance industry in their lobbying efforts in the UK.

UK Finance was formed after six previously separate lobby groups merged together with the aim of fully representing the British finance industry. The six trade associations which are set to merge are:

  • The Asset Based Finance Association (ABFA)
  • British Bankers’ Association (BBA)
  • Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML)
  • Financial Fraud Action UK (FFA UK)
  • Payments UK
  • UK Cards Association (UKCA)

These six lobbying groups served as the public face of British finance, especially during the financial crash of 2008, as well as during the various financial scandals, including the Libor benchmark rate-fixing scandal and the PPI misselling scandal.

The lobbying group has been formed in order to tackle some of the problems facing the British banking sector, including social, economic and political challenges.

Located in Angel Court, just behind the Bank of England, the UKF will represent over 300 different British firms across the financial sector, including credit brokers, banks, markets and even payment services.

How was the UKF formed?

At the end of 2015, the decision was made to merge the financial lobby groups after a report found that a single body would have a larger impact, as well as reducing duplication of effort.

Ed Richards, the former head of the media regulator Ofcom, drew up the plans for the UKF in June 2016. He originally proposed taking out a loan of £15.5m for the implementation of the new super lobby group, stating that the loan would be repayable within 3 years as a result of the cost savings.

However, so far, there have been no compulsory redundancies as a result of the merger, but several senior members have stepped aside. This includes Anthony Browne, former head of the BBA, who left at the end of the year after a five-year term.

What will the UKF do?

As part of their activities, UK Finance will supply regular public data on consumer credit and the mortgage market. However, the main purpose of UKF will be to lobby the government for help on any issues that face the current British financial market.

One of the biggest issues that the UKF will tackle is Brexit. Many in the City regard the role of UKF as being crucial during the Brexit negotiations and having one large lobbying group will be more effective than six smaller, divided groups.

The Brexit negotiations will undoubtedly have an enormous impact on the UK banking sector, and many in the City have reservations about what the new trade arrangements between Britain and the EU will be.

Banks also face major challenges from growing cybercrime risks, the advent of new technologies and combating financial exclusion.

Who are the big names on the board?

The board will be made up of 20 directors, all of who have extensive experience in the British finance industry. There are several notable big names appointed to the UKF board, including Tracey McDermott, Stephen Jones and Bob Wigley.

Tracey McDermott is one of the big heavyweights sitting on the UK Finance board. She is previously known for being the FCA enforcement chief and is a real powerhouse behind the lobbying group. She quit the City watchdog last year after failing to land the top job. She is expected to lead the UKF’s work on fraud and financial crime detection and prevention.

Stephen Jones is a financial advisor for the US investment fund Cerberus Capital, and he sits on the board of several of its finance sector portfolio companies. He is expected to start his new role in the coming weeks before the UKF officially launches in July.

In a statement to the press, Jones said he was “excited to be joining at this formative time”, and promised to

“serve our members by helping them build a more customer-focused and innovative finance and banking sector for the benefit of the UK economy as a whole”.

Bob Wigley is expected to chair the UKF. He has previously worked as the EMEA chairman of Merrill Lynch from 2003 to 2009 and has also been a member of the Court of the Bank of England.

Wigley said: “I am honoured to be taking on this key role at such a critical time for the industry. Financial services make a considerable contribution to the UK economy and currently face a challenging environment. I aim to build a strong and effective body capable of speaking for the industry with one voice and working constructively with consumers, regulators and stakeholders.

“This new organisation aims to become an authoritative voice for the finance sector all around the UK, building on the expertise of its diverse membership. I look forward to leading and overseeing the new organisation and to meeting the challenges and significant opportunities that lie ahead.”

The other board members are:

  • John Jenkins, chief executive, Amicus Finance
  • Paul Lynam, chief executive, Secure Trust Bank
  • Joanna Elson OBE, chief executive, Money Advice Trust
  • Jayne-Anne Gadhia, chief executive, Virgin Money
  • David Duffy, chief executive, CYBG
  • Clare Woodman, global chief operating officer, Morgan Stanley Institutional Securities Group
  • Peter Smith, co-founder and chief executive, Blockchain
  • Paul Gallagher, chief risk officer, UK, Nordics and Greece, Abn Amro
  • Peter Hill, chief executive, Leeds Building Society
  • Joe Garner, chief executive, Nationwide Building Society
  • Ron Kalifa, vice chairman and executive director, Worldpay
  • Miles Celic, chief executive, TheCityUK
  • Vim Maru, group director, customer products and marketing, Lloyds Banking Group
  • Mark Sismey-Durrant, chief executive, Hampshire Trust Bank
  • James Bardrick, UK chief executive, Citigroup

According to a list of board members obtained by Sky News, individual directors such as Ms McDermott will be charged with overseeing different strands of its work.

Although many have welcomed the change, it seems that not everyone agrees.