Exclusive: Thatcher Aide To Head Bankers' Body
A former aide to Margaret Thatcher will be named on Wednesday as the new chairman of the British Bankers' Association (BBA) as it begins a long haul to repair the industry's battered image.
I can reveal that Sir Nigel Wicks, who served as Principal Private Secretary to Baroness Thatcher during the 1980s, will be appointed to chair the BBA following a three-month search.
Sir Nigel's appointment is expected to be announced by Anthony Browne, the new BBA chief executive, at the lobbying group's annual conference in London on Wednesday.
The BBA's board is understood to have rubber-stamped the decision.
The recruitment of Sir Nigel will be regarded as a coup for the banking sector. He will replace Marcus Agius, who resigned as chairman of both Barclays and the BBA in June, days after the bank was fined nearly £300m for attempting to manipulate the interbank borrowing rate Libor.
Sir Nigel will be the first BBA chairman for many years not to be drawn from the pool of grandees who chair Britain's big high street banks. Prior to Mr Agius, the BBA chairmanship was held by Lord Green, the trade minister who at the time chaired HSBC.
The Barclays scandal during the summer triggered a wave of recriminations which has left the reputation of British banking at a new nadir four years after a number of lenders had to be rescued using tens of billions of pounds of taxpayers' money.
The Government has since ordered a parliamentary inquiry into the industry's ethics, and last week published a bill outlining plans for radical structural reform of the industry.
Sir Nigel is well-qualified to assume the BBA helm. He is due to step down early next year as chairman of Euroclear, the settlement service for bonds, equities, funds and derivatives after six years in the role.
It is his political connections that will be most valuable to the BBA, however. Sir Nigel had a distinguished career in the civil service, working as second permanent secretary to the Treasury and later as chairman of the Committee for Standards in Public Life.
The speakers at the BBA conference will include the chairs of all the major banks as well as senior regulators and politicians.
Mr Browne is expected to back calls for a central bankers' register from which members can be struck off for malpractice. The idea was proposed by Barclays in its submission to the parliamentary inquiry and revealed by Sky News last month.
The BBA declined to comment ahead of Wednesday's announcement.