Britain starts search for ‘highest calibre’ Bank of England governor

LONDON: Britain’s finance minister Philip Hammond began the search for a new governor of the Bank of England yesterday, seeking someone to help steer the world’s fifth-biggest economy, and its global financial centre, through the upheaval of Brexit.

Mark Carney, a Canadian, twice extended his term in charge of the British central bank as the country heads for an exit from the European Union. But he has ruled out a further delay even though Brexit remains up in the air.

“We are looking, obviously, for a candidate of the highest calibre. As we leave the European Union it’s very important that the UK continues to play an important role in global fora,” Hammond told a parliamentary committee.

He said he hoped to make an appointment in October, with the new governor starting in February 2020.

He said his preference was to hire someone for an eight-year term, although he would consider deviating from this for an exceptional candidate.

Carney took up his role on July 1, 2013, and will step down on Jan. 31, 2020.

Hammond thanked Carney for helping to lead the UK economy through “a challenging period and we are now seeing stable, low inflation and the fastest wage growth in over a decade”.

Hammond said earlier this month he hoped that concerns about Brexit would not deter potential applicants for a role with an annual salary of 480,000 pounds ($620,000).

“We know from the experience of the previous crisis that it is through cooperation between central banks that we ensure stability … therefore it’s very important that as well as having someone who can do a first-class job at home, we have someone who commands respect in the international arena,” Hammond said yesterday.

The recruitment process has been designed to ensure that the most qualified candidate is appointed from the broadest possible pool of applicants, the finance ministry said.

Potential candidates include former BoE deputy governor Andrew Bailey who is now chief executive of the Financial Conduct Authority, a markets regulator, and current top officials at the BoE including deputy governor Ben Broadbent and chief economist Andy Haldane.

Raghuram Rajan, who was governor of the Reserve Bank of India from 2013 to 2016, and chief economist at the International Monetary Fund between 2003 and 2006, declined to comment when he was asked this month whether he would consider a return to active policymaking.

The Treasury has appointed a recruitment firm, Sapphire Partners, to help in the search – the first time it has sought external help to find a BoE governor.

A Treasury official said the appointment of recruiters would help ensure the widest pool of candidates for the job. The Treasury was aiming to conduct interviews for the job over the summer. –Reuters