Myners urges tougher curbs on life companies

Paul Myners, the chairman of Guardian Media Group, set the wheels of his Treasury-commissioned review of the mutual life insurance sector in motion yesterday, calling for tougher rules on corporate governance to eliminate the possibility of another crisis such as Equitable Life.

Paul Myners, the chairman of Guardian Media Group, set the wheels of his Treasury-commissioned review of the mutual life insurance sector in motion yesterday, calling for tougher rules on corporate governance to eliminate the possibility of another crisis such as Equitable Life.

In a consultation document, published yesterday, Mr Myners said he wanted to provide a "sound basis" for the sector's future health and prosperity, raising the standard of corporate governance to the level of the publicly quoted sector.

His first round of suggestions included the possible introduction of a new code of governance specifically tailored for the sector, which companies would be bound to abide by.

He also said he would look to find a way of keeping the board under pressure from policyholders, in the same way that publicly quoted companies are kept on their toes by large institutional shareholders. He said that it was a concern that mutual insurers were not subject to the market discipline of the threat of takeover, or the concentrated ownership influence of large shareholders.

Launching the document, Mr Myners said: "I hope this consultation process will reach as many people as possible and that everyone with an interest will respond.

"Mutual life offices are a sizeable presence in the market for life insurance in the UK. They are valued by their policyholders and contribute to the diversity of the insurance sector. My challenge is to promote in this sector the very best corporate governance practice, providing a sound basis for its future health and prosperity.

"Some of the points made by Lord Penrose in his inquiry into events at Equitable Life go to the heart of how good governance is delivered - in mutuals and in other types of organisation. In particular, he poses some fundamental questions about what the practical limitations are on the ability of non-executive directors to contribute to technically complex businesses, and what our reasonable expectations should be."

The Myners review was commissioned by Ruth Kelly, the Financial Secretary to the Treasury, shortly after Lord Penrose published his report in to Equitable.

The review is not the first that Mr Myners has carried out for the Government. Three years ago, he was commissioned to investigate the institutional investment market, also for the Treasury. Recently, however, Mr Myners has been more in the public eye for his involvement with Marks & Spencer, for which he has been interim chairman since Luc Vandevelde was ousted two months ago.tion at M&S.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive / Foreign Exchange Dealer - OTE £40,000+

£16000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Foreign Exchange Dealer is re...

SThree: Experienced Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £40000 per annum + OTE + Incentives + Benefits: SThree: Established f...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE 40/45k + INCENTIVES + BENEFITS: SThree: The su...

Recruitment Genius: Collections Agent

£14000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company was established in...

Day In a Page

The long walk west: they fled war in Syria, only to get held up in Hungary – now hundreds of refugees have set off on foot for Austria

They fled war in Syria...

...only to get stuck and sidetracked in Hungary
From The Prisoner to Mad Men, elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series

Title sequences: From The Prisoner to Mad Men

Elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series. But why does the art form have such a chequered history?
Giorgio Armani Beauty's fabric-inspired foundations: Get back to basics this autumn

Giorgio Armani Beauty's foundations

Sumptuous fabrics meet luscious cosmetics for this elegant look
From stowaways to Operation Stack: Life in a transcontinental lorry cab

Life from the inside of a trucker's cab

From stowaways to Operation Stack, it's a challenging time to be a trucker heading to and from the Continent
Kelis interview: The songwriter and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell and crying over potatoes

Kelis interview

The singer and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell
Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea