We were saddened to hear of the passing of Lord Myners on 16 January. Lord Paul Myners was a supporter of mutuals and cooperatives through his life.
During the financial crisis, he was appointed Financial Services Secretary to the Treasury, serving from 2008-2010. During this time he was central to the efforts of Gordon Brown’s Government to support the financial system.
In response to a question in the Lords in 2009 he noted:
“The demutualisation of building societies, approved, supported and encouraged by the members of those societies, has had regrettable conclusions. I, for one, regret that mutuals are less significant in the financial services sector, both in insurance and in banking, than they were originally. Mutual building societies exhibited a sense of community responsibility, attachment to their geography and, above all else, prudence and responsibility which is so different from the greed and self-serving motivation of those who have led some of our banks which have got into so much difficulty. I deeply regret the fact that the prudence of building societies did not remain in the ascendancy and instead became subservient to those who led our banks so monstrously badly.
And writing the foreword to a 2010 BSA report on building society governance, he said:
“The profile of corporate governance issues has increased significantly over the past two years. Viewed in the context of a financial crisis without modern precedent, matters of management, stewardship, and ownership have lately taken on greater importance. ...
The governance of mutuals is of course different in nature when compared to other financial institutions - and has held up relatively well in this crisis - but it is no different in its critical importance to the health of organisations and the stability of our financial system. There are examples of extremely good governance within the building society sector, such as greater interaction and feedback with members using innovative and approachable techniques.”
The building society sector greatly valued Lord Myners’ support, and extend our condolences to his family.