Pendarell Kent: Bank of England director who pioneered the ‘London Approach’ to companies under financial pressure

At home in East Sheen, he took on the job of chairing a somewhat unruly school PTA

Pen Kent became a Director of the Bank of England, but he was very much more than that. His career as a central banker was long and distinguished: he was an Associate Director of the Bank between 1988 and 1993, then an Executive Director until he retired in 1997. He also worked for the IMF, organised funding for Eurotunnel and helped troubled firms to survive recession. 

As Associate Director at the Bank of England he oversaw the modernisation of the Bank’s printing works, which at the time had 750 staff and a £45 million budget. From then on, and subsequently as Executive Director, he also worked on what was to become perhaps his major achievement as a central banker – what was called the “London approach”.

His fellow Director Alastair Clark said: “He believed that the Bank could help companies which came under financial pressure, notably during the early-’90s recession, by facilitating negotiations with their creditors and encouraging the creditors to take a broader and longer-term view. It is testament to Pen’s skill and judgement, not to say courage, that in many cases he succeeded – and did so without over-committing the Bank or allowing its role to be misrepresented.”

As a Director he also had a responsibility for City affairs. After the Stock Exchange Taurus project failed, he was instrumental in setting up CREST, the settlement service for all UK and Irish share and government bond transactions.

Kent was born in Marlow in Buckinghamshire; his childhood was peripatetic when his father worked for the RAF, but the family eventually settled in Ealing. Both parents were geography teachers and they sent him to University College School in Hampstead; from there he went on to Jesus College, Oxford to study modern languages. After university he became a second lieutenant in the Intelligence Corps and was soon No 2 in the Berlin counter-intelligence unit, as well doing sports commentaries for the British Forces Network in Germany. his interest in sport was lifelong: until his late thirties he was a hard-tackling flanker in a strong Bank of England rugby team. Later in life he took up badminton.

He joined the Bank of England in 1961 and did various apprentice jobs, including a year’s secondment to the Bank for International Settlements in Basle. In 1968 he reached a salient rung on the Threadneedle Street ladder: first he became Private Secretary to the Bank’s Deputy Governor Sir Maurice Parsons, then to the Governor, Sir Leslie O’Brien. 

He married Jill George in 1960; they settled in East Sheen, where their son and daughter went to state schools, Kent taking on the job of chairing a somewhat unruly primary school PTA. Jill started a successful local nursery school and in 1970 she and Pen collaborated on a book, Nursery Schools for All.

By now the Bank clearly had its eye on Kent. In 1976 he was seconded to Washington to act as UK Alternate (Deputy) Director at the International Monetary Fund. He returned to London to join the overseas department and advise on international financial markets. This was followed by a challenging time as head of Information, managing the Bank’s relationship with the media. After that he became head of the International Division, where he did policy work on Third World debt.

His retirement was busy. CREST became Euroclear, with Kent chairman of the Market Advisory Committee from 2002 until 2011. He was heavily involved in the Strategic Rail Authority, became the director of the City of London Arts Festival and chaired the charity Blind in Business, which encouraged employers to give proper consideration to employing blind people.

He was also Governor of the National Youth Orchestra, gave his time to the National Missing Persons Helpline and valued his non-executive directorship of the Punjab National Bank International so highly that he struggled to a board meeting weeks before he was admitted to hospital for the last time.

John Trundle worked with Kent at the Bank and at Blind in Business. “His energy and enthusiasm would bring people to share his vision and he could build teams which could accomplish that vision,” he said of Kent. “He stood by the principles he had as a young man and was always prepared to be slightly anti-establishment. He had high expectations of, and belief in, the people he worked with and stood by them if the going got tough.”

The eclectic list of Kent’s achievements gives some idea of his talent, versatility and the breadth of his interests. It only hints at the dash and liveliness of a handsome man (with fair, curly hair) who loved to lead friends on walks in the Wiltshire mud, could jive to trad jazz with panache, loved skiing and had a lifelong interest in African art. In his later years he and Jill enjoyed their cottage in Wiltshire and spent time there during his long final illness. He had a incurable heart condition, a situation which he faced with fortitude, enhanced by the loving care of Jill.

Pendarell Hugh Kent, banker: born Marlow 18 August 1937; CBE 1997; married 1960 Jill George (one son, one daughter); died 30 December 2013.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Keith Fraser says we should give Isis sympathises free flights to join Isis (AFP)
Life and Style
Google celebrates the 126th anniversary of the Eiffel Tower opening its doors to the public for the first time
techGoogle celebrates Paris's iconic landmark, which opened to the public 126 years ago today
Cleopatra the tortoise suffers from a painful disease that causes her shell to disintegrate; her new prosthetic one has been custom-made for her using 3D printing technology
newsCleopatra had been suffering from 'pyramiding'
Arts and Entertainment
Coachella and Lollapalooza festivals have both listed the selfie stick devices as “prohibited items”
Nigel Owens was targeted on Twitter because of his sexuality during the Six Nations finale between England and France earlier this month
rugbyReferee Nigel Owens on coming out, and homophobic Twitter abuse
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Web Designer / Front End Developer

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast expanding web managem...

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey / South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey/ South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Ashdown Group: Recruitment Consultant / Account Manager - Surrey / SW London

£40000 per annum + realistic targets: Ashdown Group: A thriving recruitment co...

Day In a Page

No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor