The Business On... Paul Smee, director-general, Council of Mortgage Lenders


Since when?

Since yesterday, when the CML announced his appointment (though officially he doesn't take over from Michael Coogan, the current DG, until 1 August).



So who is he?

He's spent most of his career in financial services, most recently as the chief executive of the Payments Council, the body that supervises Britain's money transfer systems. He used to run the Association of Independent Financial Advisers and he's also worked at the Association of British Insurers and the London Stock Exchange.



He knows his way round the City then?

Yes, as well as Westminster, which is important since lobbying is a key part of this job. He's not totally without experience elsewhere though – he started out in the civil service and also had a spell at the Independent Television Commission.



Any skeletons in the closet?

Not that we know of. But his time at the Payments Council was notable for the role he played in the fall-out after the leak of child benefit data from the Benefits Agency, which he had to help clear up.



So he's used to controversy?

Indeed, which will come in handy at the Council of Mortgage Lenders, whose members are getting used to coming in for stick.



What have they done?

It's what they haven't that's the problem. Just as small businesses are struggling to get credit, so homebuyers have found the supply of mortgage finance restricted since the end of the credit crunch. And there is also growing evidence that lenders have been using the current period of record low interest rates to raise their margins by not passing on cheaper borrowing costs.



Will Mr Smee clean up their act?

That's not what he's there for. Instead you can expect him to mount an articulate and credible defence of mortgage lenders. After all, if he can stand up for financial advisers and insurance companies, he can stand up for anyone.

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