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Shake up at Scottish Mortgage – chair out

230321 SMT board

The board of Scottish Mortgage Investment Trust has announced certain role changes on the board resulting from succession planning which it says has been developed and supported by all of the directors over the course of the last 12 months:

  • Mr Justin Dowley, the senior independent director, will succeed Ms Fiona McBain as chair with effect from the conclusion of the 2023 AGM; and Ms McBain will step down from the board at the same time.
  • Professor Patrick Maxwell will succeed Mr Dowley as the senior independent director;
  • Professor Paola Subacchi will retire from her role as a director at the conclusion of the 2023 AGM, having served nine years on the board;
  • Professor Amar Bhidé has now left the board and is no longer a director of the company.

The above appointments are conditional on Justin Dowley and Patrick Maxwell being re-elected to the board at the AGM.

The announcement says that over the last few months, the board has been conducting a recruitment process, using an external search firm, looking for new directors. The search is said to be “well advanced“.

[We have written a bit about this over the last few days – see my latest article on Citywire, for example. The breakdown of orderly succession planning at the sector’s flagship trust is highly unfortunate. The 10-year maximum tenure guideline need not be imposed on all directors, but it probably should apply to chairs given the influence that they can wield and the damage it can do to a trust’s reputation if a boardroom row breaks out, as it did here. The new directors will need to address the rump board’s lack of diversity and also, I feel, the issues raised by Professor Bhidé about the lack of directors with professional investment experience. That may require a rethink – as the row appeared to emanate from problems that Professor Bhidé had identified with the short list of candidates – but it will be important to take time to get this right, so that investors’ faith in the board can be restored.]

SMT : Shake up at Scottish Mortgage – chair out

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