David Ruffley MP scrutinises new appointment to interim Financial Policy Committee

Wednesday, 26 October, 2011

David questions Robert Jenkins in Treasury Committee.

Q4 Mr Ruffley: Could I just begin by asking why did you leave the New York-based macro-hedged fund that you were CEO of in July 2011? What prompted that?

Robert Jenkins: I left it in order to take this job. This is an opportunity of a lifetime.

Q5 Mr Ruffley: You obviously have some interest in public policy because of your announcements and also the teaching job you do. How many hours a week-I do not think I am being too personal here-would you say you work in total in all of the voluntary and private sector jobs and roles you perform? What is an average working week?

Robert Jenkins: I do not punch a clock anymore so I suppose-

Mr Ruffley: No, but you must have some idea. Everyone has some vague idea of how much time they spend working.

Robert Jenkins: In some ways it is continuous. All activities that I am involved in are self-reinforcing, so what I learn from my involvement in one area helps my teaching, what I learn in my teaching helps my other network. I intend to give two to three days a week to the Financial Policy Committee opportunity. What I learn in the Financial Policy Committee arena is only going to make me a better teacher at the London Business School.

Q6 Mr Ruffley: But two to three days a week, so what sort of hours? At one level I understand you cannot quantify these things precisely, because you are presumably at weekends thinking great thoughts about macro-prudential regulation, should you take up this job, but what would the two to three days a week, in your words, equate to in number of hours? What is the intensity of those two to three days?

Robert Jenkins: My wife would say that I am working harder than ever before but I also have to say I have never enjoyed it more, so I cannot honestly say it is work. She would say that I start at 8.00am in the morning and I do not finish until I go to bed.

Q7 Mr Ruffley: How many days a week is that? Six days?

Robert Jenkins: No, not six days a week. There are times when I am on holiday, there are times when there is no compelling deadline to meet. I do not mean to dodge your question.

Q8 Mr Ruffley: It is simply if you ask most MPs how many days a week they work they would probably say six days a week, meetings, doing things where he has to put a suit on, and then the seventh day you are probably thinking about what you have done in the preceding six days. My answer to the question would be six days a week, and you are saying two to three days, and I simply asked you how many hours on average. The reason I ask this is because there is a question that we have to address here. You have quite a few other outside interests, donÕt you; would you care to list those for the Committee?

Robert Jenkins: Yes, just to clarify-

Mr Ruffley: Private sector.

Robert Jenkins: Just to clarify though, the two to three days a week is what I estimate I will be contributing to the FPC only, not to-

Mr Ruffley: Sorry, that is what I mean. We are talking about the two to three days a week.

Robert Jenkins: I have four activities, one of which is the Financial Policy Committee. The London Business School, I am an Adjunct Professor of Finance. I teach a class twice a year in investment management. That class is what they call a block week format. It means it is a total immersion of one week concentrated course that begins 9.00am Monday and it finishes on Friday evening. There is a week of preparation before it and a week of decompression afterwards so that is three weeks, twice a year, so that is six weeks. Inevitably I get involved with students, I support them, I help the school in any way I can. I cannot put a number on that.

I am a non-executive director of a small investment trust, which is described in the papers. It is an Asian equity trust, it meets formally on schedule five times a year. It might or might not meet more often if there is a problem. At the moment there is no problem so it is five times a year, five board meetings for which there is the normal board preparation, which is probably two days for every board meeting, so call that 18 days a year.

I am on retainer for something called CBC Capital Partners. CBC Capital Partners is a global private equity group. It was founded in the UK. It is headquartered in Luxembourg. They have offices around the world. I am an advisor in particular to what they call their financial institutions practice, and more specifically I help them think through the trends, challenges and opportunities that might or might not occur in the asset management world. That is no less than one phone call a month and it can be more activity if warranted or I am called upon. That probably has not been more than 10 days a year, in the last two years, that I have been involved with them.

Q9 Mr Ruffley: Ten days a year? Could I just ask, can you assure the Committee that in acting as an FPC member, if a crisis were to break out you would be able to rejig your existing other commitments to devote your undivided attention to the FPC work, there would be no difficulty in doing that?

Robert Jenkins: The FPC comes first.

Chair: Thank you for that clarification.

Q10 Mr Ruffley: I just have one final question, very quickly. Just on policy, Adam Posen has been suggesting, and others support him, that there should be a public bank or some public authority, taxpayer-backed in any event, to create lending facilities to small or medium sized enterprise. Just to get a feel for what your ideological and practical view of these matters is, do you think a proposal like that confuses the role of the Government on the one hand and the Bank of England on the other, when it comes to managing fiscal policy and when it comes to managing monetary policy? Would you have any issues with that, and if so, why? Discuss.

Robert Jenkins: If the Government chose to create an agency to facilitate a particular sector I certainly would not necessarily see that as a problem for financial stability.

Q11 Mr Ruffley: What I am driving at here is the interface between Government and the Bank of England.

Robert Jenkins: I watched the video footage of your session yesterday with the Governor and I think there was a good exchange, which revolved around the issue of whether the Bank should be in the business of backing a particular sector or not, and what occurred to me at the time when I was listening to that was that the Bank is not equipped with credit analysis skills at the company level in order to choose winners and losers.

Read the full transcript here: