'Man of the people' starts at Nationwide

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DAVID English, the latest 'people's' recruit to the board of the Nationwide Building Society, is combing through papers this weekend in preparation for his first board meeting on Wednesday, writes Maria Scott.

Mr English, 48, is a former area sales director at Nationwide who was made redundant last year after more than 20 years' service. He was elected by members of the society at its annual meeting 10 days ago. In theory, all board members are elected, but most are co-opted by the management.

Those among Nationwide's seven million savers and borrowers who feel the society has been inefficient in its recent treatment of them may be disappointed if they were expecting a campaigning zealot.

'I am not going to rush in and bang tables and try to change the world,' he said. 'I don't want to put myself on a pedestal.

'I believe I can bring experience to the board table that I do not believe anyone else has.'

He feels that Nationwide has turned the corner after a difficult period during which it faced heavy criticism from its members over a variety of issues. The most vociferous protests concerned the society's refusal to let savers transfer into a higher-paying account without incurring a penalty.

Mr English describes himself as a 'people person' who knows how to deal with members and leave them happy.

But this does not necessarily imply criticism of the management, he insists. Mr English believes that Nationwide's problems stem largely from the fact that it is the product of a merger of two separate societies which took place when the industry was changing radically.