Viewed through the prism of his porn and meth enthusiasms, former Co-op Bank Chairman Paul Flowers’ total lack of business experience and tendency to take naps at inopportune times is making some people question whether he ever should have been handed the reins of a major British bank in the first place.
As Co-op Bank hurtled toward crisis this spring, its board gathered for a meeting at the company’s Manchester headquarters. Directors turned to Chairman Paul Flowers to help figure out how to stabilize the bank, which was running dangerously low on capital after four years of rapid expansion.
The mustachioed Mr. Flowers irked fellow board members by focusing on procedural matters, according to people at the meeting. At one point, he closed his eyes and appeared to fall asleep, one of the people said….
Former colleagues say a folksy demeanor and his social prominence helped Mr. Flowers—a Methodist minister since 1975 and a local city councilor in his home of Bradford in the north of England for nearly a decade—become a member of Co-operative Group’s board of directors in 2008.
In 2009, Mr. Flowers was selected by his fellow Co-operative Group directors to join the board of Co-op Bank, one of the group’s biggest businesses and Britain’s seventh-largest lender by assets. The next year, he became nonexecutive chairman, a role that put him in charge of approving the bank’s strategy and monitoring the performance of the bank’s chief executive but didn’t involve the day-to-day running of the bank….
Mr. Flowers was unique among chairmen of major U.K. banks in not having experience as a bank executive. Co-op Bank had previously been overseen by chairmen who weren’t bankers, but those leaders had business experience.