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Business Comment

Simon English: Schroders' board due for a shake-up

Outlook Back in the late 1990s, the distinguished fund management house Schroders suffered such a chronic period of duff stock-picking that unkind souls in the City dubbed the firm Skodas.

Those days are firmly behind it, of course. (The cars are also under new management and miles better than they used to be.)

Back then, Schroders was unhindered by either financial crises or wildly volatile stock markets – it made a hash of things entirely under its own steam.

Yesterday's figures show a much stronger, much more confident business, despite a few wobbles.

Chief executive Michael Dobson arrived just as it was heading for the biggest loss in its 200-year history, and the first since its listing 40 years earlier. It lost £8m in 2001 from a profit of £275m the year before. He culled nearly a quarter of the workforce to cut costs.

There's now a feeling about town that fresh blood may be needed. Chief investment officer Alan Brown is moving sideways (on the most generous interpretation). That's one thing. It would be a cheap gag to look back at his Crystal Ball predictions for 2012, released in November, and note that he didn't see this one coming, so we shall resist.

The 75-year-old chairman Michael Miles is standing down in favour of a younger man. His successor Andrew Beeson is a mere 67.

The average age of the board is presently 64, so it does not lack for experience. In fund management, having worked through disasters from 40 years ago is highly helpful. As long as you can remember it.

The shake-up unveiled yesterday is among fund managers.

The board might benefit from something similar.