3 min read

What The Bank of England Governor Job Ad Really Means

It’s arguably the most important unelected job in Britain, and on Friday it will, for the first time, be advertised.

The role of Bank of England Governor will become available when Sir Mervyn King steps down next July. Historically, the succession has been decided privately by the Prime Minister and Chancellor, but this time around, in the face of much criticism about the opacity of the Bank’s workings, they will seek candidates publicly.

The text of the ad, which will go up in The Economist on Friday, is rather bland and predictable and as with most of these things, what’s most interesting is what’s omitted. So for the benefit of those considering applying for the job and unversed in the language of Whitehall, I’ve taken the liberty of annotating it with what each element really means.

All annotations are in bold:

The position of Governor of the Bank of England will fall vacant when Sir Mervyn King retires in June 2013. Good riddance. The Governor leads the Bank of England, and plays an important role in setting monetary and regulatory policy, chairing the Monetary Policy Committee, the Financial Policy Committee and (from next year) the board of the Prudential Regulation Authority. In other words if you get this job you’ll be the most powerful person in the financial system.  The Governor represents the Bank in important international fora, such as the G7, G20, the European Systemic Risk Board and the Bank of International Settlements in Basel but if you’re smart you’ll choose to ignore these waffle-shops and get on with the real task: saving our dismal economy. The Governor is an executive member of the Bank’s Court of Directors who you will probably spend most of your term attempting to ignore as well.

The Governor will work closely with the Chancellor of the Exchequer and HM Treasury, which is responsible for setting the framework under which the Bank operates so if you don’t behave we’ll simply change your role. So don’t misbehave. And whatever you do don’t undermine us in public. Got that?.

The new Governor will lead the Bank through major reforms to the regulatory system, including the transfer of new responsibilities that will see the Bank take the lead in safeguarding the stability of the UK financial system. Yes, as previously mentioned, you will be mega-powerful – probably the most powerful single person in Britain’s economy in decades – and unlike our Chancellor, you’ll probably still be in place in five years’ time.

The successful candidate must demonstrate that they can successfully lead, influence and manage the change in the Bank’s responsibilities, inspiring confidence and credibility both within the Bank and throughout financial markets after all, in this world of quantitative easing, you’re sitting on the biggest pile of money this central bank has ever created, and the main thing preventing investors from panicking at the prospect of hyperinflation is your credibility.

The successful candidate will have experience of working in, or with, a central bank or similar institution although not for so long that your primary loyalty is economists rather than politicians; or will have worked at the most senior level in a major bank or other financial institution – but frankly investment bankers are pretty much a no-no. And if you’re from Barclays, just leave it, yeah? He or she will demonstrate strong leadership, management and policy skills but preferably without dominating the entire institution like the last incumbent; will have an advanced understanding of financial markets and good economic knowledge though, and apologies if we’re repeating ourselves, we’re really keen to get someone who doesn’t criticise us in public.  He or she will be a strong communicator, because you’ll be derided in the media, slammed by parliamentary committees and, if you were ever to hand out a medal at a sporting event, booed in public, have good interpersonal skills and will be a person of undisputed integrity and standing if there is such a thing in the financial world any more. Erm, anyone?

The closing date for all applications is 8:30 am on 8 October 2012

This article is also available on the Sky News website.

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