“Ooh look – something has bounced off the fan and it appears to be coming my way!!”
The Dunfermline Building Sociey had the temerity to go cap-in-hand to the Government. The Chairman Jim Faulds was rude about the Chancellor and accused him of making the wrong decision, based on erroneous information. Bad move. The truth is that the Financial Services Authority has been hawking the Dunfermline around the indutry for a few weeks – without too many takers. Jim Faulds’ outburst was nothing more than an 11th-hour face-saving attempt. It was not the Chancellor’s fault that the Dunfermline Buiulding Society has managed to build a terminally toxic commercial mortgage book.
The Society has always managed to produce a modest surplus and it is quite amazing that the Board (in common with many other Financial Services Boards) has acted as if it did not see any of this coming. The solids hit the air-conditioning many months ago and have been flying in their direction ever since.
The Dunfermline B.S was Mutual Society. That means that it was owned by its members and therefore had no pressure as far as profit or shareholder dividends were concerned. All that a Mutual needs is a small operating surplus.
Therefore it takes a special kind of incompetence to run up such huge losses and then to expect an automatic Government bailout. However, it would again seem like a case of provincial directors mixing it with professional investment sharks and the commercial world. Vanity over pragmatism.
The DBS appointed a new Chief Executive in December 2008. His name is Jim Willens and until last year, he was on the Board of Nationwide. Coincidentally, it is the Nationwide which has now bought the DBS branches, investments and good loans. Jim Willens has been fighting a losing battle for several months – ever since Deloitte’s, the Society’s auditors refused to sign-off the accounts because the Society was insolvent.
Graeme Dalziel was the previous Chief Executive and the spotlight will soon be trained on him. Regrettably, he is in the frame for the failure of DBS. He is a former Finance Director and in common with another CEO of a failed north-of-the-border financial institution - he is an Accountant.
So what is it about Scottish Accountants who have power thrust upon them? Mind you, the British economy is currently being run by a Scottish History Graduate and a Scottish Solicitor – so we should be all right.