David Prosser: The job that’s a tough sell at £143,000

Finding a replacement for Mr Kingman is not going to be easy. It is not that he has done a fantastic job running UKFI ? though his stewardship improved after a shaky start ? but that this is a civil service job with civil service pay and a rather unpleasant public profile.

Conventional wisdom has it that one significant contributory factor in Britain’s banking crisis was the lack of industry experience of many senior executives ? former retailer Andy Hornby at HBOS, for example, or ex-pharmaceuticals executive Sir Tom McKillop at Royal Bank of Scotland.

Strange then that the Treasury doesn’t seem to regard banking experience as a must-have for those it appoints to look after our stakes in Lloyds Banking Group, RBS and Bradford & Bingley (Northern Rock has not yet passed to UKFI control).

Mr Kingman, for example, is a high-flying civil servant whose private sector experience has been in oil and media. Sir David, meanwhile, has worked in the City, but chiefly in private equity, and has spent much of his career in the engineering sector.

In an ideal world, then, one would like Mr Kingman’s replacement to have more of a background in banking. But anyone with a decent pedigree isn’t going to fancy the job much. For one thing, the money is rubbish compared to what’s on offer from private-sector banks, with an annual salary of £143,000. Even more depressingly, every move the UKFI boss makes is big news ? one of Mr Kingman’s first public appearances, for example, was a savage grilling from the Treasury Select Committee.

Recently retired banking executives might fancy the post, but that’s not quite the appointment to make if the Treasury wants to send the right message about how serious a role this is.

All in all, then, this recruitment process may prove even trickier than the search for UKFI’s new chairman. The Treasury should ask Lloyds to hand over the names of the applicants for its chairmanship ? it said it had 50 expressions of interest before appointing Sir Win Bischoff on Monday.

Many of them, however, will likely be put off by the biggest problem about the UKFI job ? the impending election and the likelihood that this odd offshoot of the Treasury could soon be serving new political masters.

It’s certainly not difficult to see why Mr Kingman wants to get out, but one final thought on that. Expect an almighty row if he pops up in a senior banking sector position ? particularly if, as some are suggesting, he bags an executive role at Lloyds.

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