He will hand over to Michael Marks, the chief executive, who will become executive chairman. Paul Roy, who built up SNC's broking side from small beginnings six years ago, is to be the new chief executive.
Sir Michael, 70 next year, fiercely rejected any suggestion he was retiring from the City. 'I am not looking for any leisure,' he said. 'I am vastly intrigued by everything that goes on in the City.'
He made it clear he was in the market for another chairmanship. 'If something interesting and decent turns up that is not in any way in conflict with Smith New Court I would look at it,' he said.
Sir Michael will continue as a consultant to SNC and will be paid a fee for introducing corporate broking business. He said he would not receive compensation for giving up his pounds 145,000 non-executive chairman's salary. Sir Michael remains a non-executive vice-chairman of Rothschild, the merchant bank where he was managing director of corporate finance, and of five investment trusts, Sedgwick, the insurance brokers and the Savoy Hotel.
He said: 'When I went in I said I would do five years. Life moves on and I felt it was time to let Michael Marks take over.'
Mr Marks said the changes had been planned 'ages ago' and the firm planned no alteration to its strategy of building international business in South-east Asia, New York and Europe.
Unlike Mr Marks, a career SNC man, Mr Roy joined from Citicorp Scrimgeour Vickers, the stock market firm that belonged to Citicorp, the American bank. He said he was brought into SNC 'to get the broking business going and put some structure in'.
SNC had previously been a stock jobber with little broking expertise. Since Mr Roy took over UK broking it has risen from 2 to 10 per cent market share.
Mr Roy, who has five children, said his wife had a sixth on the way. 'That's where the real pressure is,' he added.
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