New chief did not take any banking exams

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The Independent Online

Ron Sandler, the man chosen by the Government to run Northern Rock, does not have any formal banking qualifications.

The ifs School of Finance, formerly the Chartered Institute of Bankers, said Mr Sandler had not sat for a specific banking qualification. He holds a fellowship of the ifs, which he was awarded for his contribution to financial services.

Adam Applegarth, the chief executive who steered Northern Rock to its near-collapse, told MPs on the Treasury Select Committee last year that he had no banking qualifications. The committee called on the Financial Services Authority to ensure that at least one of the chairman and chief executive of a financial institution should have relevant financial qualifications. At Northern Rock, Mr Sandler is in effect chairman and chief executive.

Northern Rock said: "Ron Sandler is eminently qualified to take this position. He has an MBA and has spent much of his career in banking and the broader financial services industry."

Mr Sandler, 55, is widely respected in the industry, particularly for his work at Lloyd's of London. He and Sir David Rowland, Lloyd's chairman, rescued the world's oldest insurance market, after massive asbestos claims.

When Mr Sandler and Sir David joined NatWest in 1999, it is understood that Mr Sandler's job was chief operating officer, rather than chief executive, because he did not have formal banking qualifications.

There is no formal requirement for bankers to hold formal qualifications. The Financial Services Authority looks at a person's broad experience to decide if they are "fit and proper".

Mr Sandler has lined up heavyweights to sit alongside him. Ann Godbehere will take on the role of finance director. Stephen Hester, chief executive of British Land, will be non-executive deputy chairman. Mr Hester was finance director of Abbey National until 2004 and was responsible for unloading the risky assets in which the bank had invested. Other board appointees are the Treasury high-flyer Tom Scholar and Philip Remnant from the shareholder executive.

Mr Sandler will be paid £90,000 a month, with no bonus plan for the moment.

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