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'Alpha male' bank culture condemned

Published 11/06/2015

Jayne-Anne Gadhia slammed the
Jayne-Anne Gadhia slammed the "win at all costs" mentality

The boss of Virgin Money has hit out against the "alpha maleness of banking" that demands people "win at all costs".

Chief executive Jayne-Anne Gadhia, who used to run Royal Bank of Scotland's mortgage business, told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "I think winning at all costs has been a problem for all sorts of businesses in the past, and it's certainly been a problem in banking."

She added: "Good business which tries to find a win-win for everyone is going to be the most successful business in the end."

Her remarks come after Bank of England governor Mark Carney said the ''age of irresponsibility'' was over in banking as he gave his annual Mansion House speech to the City alongside Chancellor George Osborne last night.

Mr Carney made his speech as the Bank published the final report of the Fair and Effective Markets Review, which the governor and Chancellor launched a year ago in the wake of a series of City scandals.

Among the reviews 21 recommendations it calls for UK criminal sanctions for market abuse to be extended to a wider range of areas and the lengthening of the maximum sentence available from seven to 10 years.

It also said it was now time for individuals and firms to take a central role in raising standards, warning that if they failed to, more restrictive regulation would be inevitable.

Mr Carney said: "For let us be clear: there is no trade-off between high standards of conduct and competitiveness. Far from it. Implementing the reforms set out in this review will ensure trust in our markets and strengthen London's global leadership position.''

Ms Gadhia worked for RBS for six years until 2006, during which time the bank was led by disgraced former chief executive Fred Goodwin.

Under Mr Goodwin a culture emerged that fiercely drove profits and cuts costs. He is said to have led a hard drinking atmosphere among his senior executive team, who were used to being publicly criticised if they failed to hit targets.

Ms Gadhia said towards the end of her time there, running the lender's mortgage business, she became uncomfortable with the pressure she was coming under to package up subprime mortgages as investments and to drive profits in the mortgage market.

She said she was encouraged to do "things that I didn't feel that I could deliver with complete confidence that we were doing the right thing".

She refused to package mortgages in this way and soon left the bank for Virgin.

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