The Men And Women Who Run Hargreaves Lansdown

Published in Company Comment on 10 October 2012

What you need to know about the financial services group's top executives.

Management can make all the difference to a company's success and thus its share price.

The best companies are those run by talented and experienced leaders with strong vested interests in the success of the business, held in check by a board with sound financial and business acumen. Some of the worst investments to hold are those run by executives collecting fat rewards as the underlying business goes to pot.

In this series, I'm assessing the boardrooms of companies within the FTSE 100 (UKX). I hope to separate the management teams that are worth following from those that are not. Today I am looking at Hargreaves Lansdown (LSE:HL), best known for its online platform for retail investors.

Here are the key directors:

DirectorPosition
Michael Evans(non-exec) Chairman
Ian GorhamChief Executive
Tracey TaylorFinance Director
Peter HargreavesExecutive Director

Famously set up by Peter Hargreaves and Stephen Lansdown in a spare bedroom in 1981 and floated in 2007, Hargreaves Lansdown’s board is in transition from that of an owner-manager model to a fully independent board. Though shareholders may benefit from a more normal governance structure, they may suffer from the diminishing leadership of the founders.

Hargreaves and Lansdown, who respectively own 32% and 20% of the shares, together control the company. But Stephen Lansdown stood down from the chairmanship to be a non-executive director in 2009, and will leave the board next month.

When this was announced Peter Hargreaves indicated that he would carry on for some time. As an executive controlling nearly a third of the shares, he remains the major influence on the board.

Governance

That must make for a strange governance role for chairman Michael Evans. He is a qualified actuary and was formerly chief operating officer of Scandia Life.

CEO Ian Gorham joined the company in 2009 as chief operating officer, joining the board as CEO in 2010 at 38 as the then 63-year old Peter Hargreaves stepped down. A qualified accountant he worked in the accounting industry prior to joining Hargreaves Lansdown, latterly as head of Grant Thornton’s financial services practice.

A qualified accountant who formerly worked for Lloyds Banking (LSE: LLOY), Tracey Taylor joined the company in 1999 and became finance director in 2008. She holds £5m worth of shares, a remarkably large holding for the FD of a company in the lower orders of the FTSE 100, and over 10 times her 2011 remuneration.

Though Ian Gorham’s shareholding is minimal, the company’s deferred bonus share scheme hopefully means that he will have a significant holding within a year or so.

There are four independent non executives, led by the controversial former CEO of Prudential (LSE: PRU) Jonathan Bloomer.

I analyse management teams from five different angles to help work out a verdict. Here's my assessment:

1. Reputation. Management CVs and track record.

Evolving.
Score 3/5
2. Performance. Success at the company.

Strong.
Score 4/5
3. Board Composition. Skills, experience, balance

Debatable.
Score 2/5
4. Remuneration. Fairness of pay, link to performance.

Reasonable and strongly performance related.
Score 4/5
5. Directors’ Holdings, compared to their pay.

Impressive.
Score 4/5

Overall, Hargreaves Lansdown scores 17 out of 25, a decent result. Whilst the company's performance has been remarkable, its governance is in transition which holds back the board’s overall score.

I've collated all my FTSE 100 boardroom verdicts on this summary page. I hope this helps with your analysis.

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> Tony does not own any shares mentioned in this article. The Motley Fool owns shares in Hargreaves Lansdown.

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Comments

The opinions expressed here are those of the individual writers and are not representative of The Motley Fool. If you spot any comments that are unsuitable hit the flag to alert our moderators.

theRealGrinch 10 Oct 2012 , 2:54pm

bit of an annoying formula at the end of all these articles now. sell sell sell. shame

AleisterCrowley 11 Oct 2012 , 1:09pm

At least it's tagged on the end, so one can ignore the Buffeting

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