Thursday 31 January 2013

New faces. New chances for social finance.

Last night we had a Board meeting of the Social Investment Business.

As the Social Investment Business Group enters its second decade of social investing, I was chuffed to welcome five new board members. The new appointments join us at a potentially exciting time for social investment and bring a diverse range of skills and experience from Whitehall and the City with specialisms in law, corporate finance, risk and public service delivery. I reckon it would be difficult to recruit a better bunch of non execs.

And why have we succeeded? I put it down to a great search carried out by top head hunter from Attenti, David fielding, and the fact we pay non execs. David said it was abundantly clear we got people at this level because we pay and so can compete with non execs in the Public sector (who are all paid).

The five new board members are:

• Carolyn Aitchison, who has been MD at The Blackstone Group and Morgan Stanley, and is a trustee for the Big Issue Foundation.

• Crispin Blunt MP, MP for Reigate in Surrey since 1997. He served as the Minister responsible for Prisons, Probation, youth and criminal justice until September 2012. His expertise in government commissioning will be invaluable and he made trenchant and amusing interventions at our Board.

• Louise Keeling started at the Bank of England before moving in to equity asset management at Insight Investment and Marathon Asset Management. Clearly a top class brain and analytic power.

• Edward Lord has been an elected member of the City of London Corporation since 2001. He is chair of Capital Ambition and until recently was chair of Local Partnerships LLP. He has also been vice-chair of the Whittington Hospital NHS Trust. He is Deputy chair of the City's loan fund and worked with the LGA on the potential for local government bonds. Another useful ally as we look at how to join forces with councils on joint loan funds.

• Jeremy Newman is chair of the Audit Commission and the former Global Chief Executive of BDO. He basically built up BDO into the power it now is. And he has a major role in a number of Jewish charities. And unusually for an accountant is most cultured and amusing. He quoted poetry at his interview. A man after my own heart.

These are top class recruits and I remain privileged to lead such talented boards. Our new appointments are the product of a rigorous search process and highlight the capacity of our sector to attract the very best if we do it professionally.

Last night we were discussing exciting plans for the coming year; building on our experience of supporting community enterprise and charities grow and increase their impact. In particular I see big opportunities for us in maximising the role of the sector in the rehabilitation revolution, and in forming new partnerships with local authorities. We are open to offers as we have an endowment of £15m which we want to use for leverage.

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