OBIE will 'learn from past mistakes', says chair

The newly appointed chair of the Open Banking Implementation Entity (OBIE), Charlotte Crosswell has pledged to “acknowledge and learn from past mistakes” after an independent investigation found that leadership failures at the body allowed a “culture of bullying and intimidation to prevail.”

Crosswell’s appointment comes after Imran Gulamhuseinwala resigned as OBIE trustee and chair last week following the investigation commissioned by the CMA (Competition and Markets Authority).

The investigation separately found that “there was a failure properly to manage conflicts of interest at the organisation and though it did not find any evidence that this was exploited for private gain, there was an unacceptable risk that it might have done so.”

The investigation concluded that management did not ensure the OBIE was properly managed in accordance with the Retail Banking Market Investigation Order 2017 (the Order).

Having considered the findings, the CMA last week published the report and set out the next steps to be taken.

Croswell has today set out plans to help Open Banking deliver on its mission as a public good by increasing competition and innovation and ultimately securing better outcomes for consumers and SMEs.

She is charged with leading the planned transition to the future arrangements for Open Banking.

Further priority hires will be the appointment of new non-executive directors to the OBIE board to give appropriate independent scrutiny and oversight.

The OBIE also said it will work with the CMA and CMA9 to put the appropriate measures in place surrounding their appointments.

Charlotte Crosswell, OBIE’s Chair said: “I want to thank everyone who contributed to the review and acknowledge that those must have been difficult conversations to have. On behalf of OBIE, I want to take this opportunity to sincerely apologise to anyone who feels negatively affected or let down by the issues identified in Ms White’s report. In my new role at OBIE, I am committed to turning these learnings into effective and meaningful change both in terms of stronger governance as well as a continued focus on employee values and wellbeing.”

She added: “The sentiment conveyed to me by an overwhelming number of existing staff is that the OBIE of today is unrecognisable from the negative culture previously described. However, the observations and findings of Ms White mean that there is absolutely no scope for complacency. Under my leadership we will commit to working to ensure that there is no repetition of any failings and inadequacies, historical or otherwise. Simply put, what happened was unacceptable and can’t happen again. We intend to act swiftly and decisively. Non-executive directors will be appointed to the OBIE board as a priority, to provide appropriate independent scrutiny and oversight.”

Ms Crosswell went on to explain that since joining the OBIE initially as transition lead earlier this year she has been hugely impressed with the professionalism, dedication and innovation of the OBIE team and the wider support of the Open Banking ecosystem.

“OBIE personnel past and present have helped to establish the UK as a recognised world leader in open banking. 4 million consumers and small businesses in the UK now use services powered by Open Banking technology. Everyone that works for the OBIE believes in the mission and that has been powerful and inspiring to witness.

“With the CMA soon to announce next steps towards the model for the future governance of Open Banking we are at a key inflection point, and I hope this will give us greater clarity and enable us to implement fully the kind of leadership, governance and structure, alongside a supportive, diverse and inclusive culture, that is vital for a progressive and permanent organisation.”

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