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Adair Turner

Jonathan Adair Turner, Baron Turner of Ecchinswell (born 5 October 1955, Ipswich) is a British businessman, academic, a member of the UK's Financial Policy Committee, and was Chairman of the Financial Services Authority until its abolition in March 2013. He is the former Chairman of the Pensions Commission and the Committee on Climate Change. He has described himself in a BBC HARDtalk interview with Stephen Sackur as a 'technocrat'.

Early life

He grew up in Crawley and East Kilbride (both new towns - his father Geoffrey was a University of Liverpool-educated town planner), and initially attended Hutchesons' Grammar School in Glasgow, then moved to Argyll. He attended Glenalmond College and Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, where he took a double first in History and Economics and became President of the Cambridge Union. He was also Chairman of the University's Conservative Association. He joined the SDP in 1981.

Business career

He taught economics part-time after university. His career with BP started in 1979 and he worked for Chase Manhattan Bank from 1979-82. He became a director of McKinsey & Co in 1994 after joining in 1982.[1] Turner was Director-General of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) from 1995-9.[2] In this role he became one of the leading proponents of British membership of the euro - a stance he later said was mistaken.[3] From 2000-06 he was Vice-Chairman of Merrill Lynch Europe.[4]

He lectures part-time at the London School of Economics, where in 2010 he delivered three lectures on "Economics after the Crisis", later published by MIT Press as a book under that title: this criticised conventional wisdom that the object of policy should be to maximise GDP, that the way to do this is to promote freer markets, and that inequality is an acceptable price for growth.[5]

In 2002, he chaired a UK government enquiry into pensions. In 2007, he succeeded Frances Cairncross as Chairman of the Economic and Social Research Council and Baroness Jay as Chair of the Overseas Development Institute's Council.

In 2008 he was appointed Chairman of the UK Government's nascent Committee on Climate Change. He stepped down from this position in Spring 2012.[6]

On 29 May 2008, it was announced that he would take over as Chairman of the Financial Services Authority.[7] He took up this post in September 2008 for a five-year term to succeed Callum McCarthy.

Financial Services Authority

Turner defended the actions of the regulator on the BBC's Andrew Marr show on 15 February 2009, saying that other regulatory bodies throughout the world, which varied in structure and lightness of regulatory touch, also failed to predict the economic collapse. He said that in line with other regulators the FSA had failed intellectually by focusing too much on processes and procedures rather than looking at the bigger economic picture. Asked why Sir James Crosby had been appointed deputy chairman when the FSA had said that his bank HBOS was using risky lending practices, Lord Turner said that they had files on almost every financial institution indicating a degree of risk.[8]

He did not apologise for the actions of the FSA, which had presided over the near-total collapse of several major banks, and accepted that it had not foreseen the consequences for Lloyds Bank of its merger with the ailing HBOS in September 2008. Despite controversy over bonuses for employees of Lloyds, he sought to justify bonuses averaging 15 per cent for his own 2,500 staff, arguing "If you're saying we should now cut the bonuses [of FSA employees], you're saying you should cut their pay by 15%".[9]

In August 2009 in an interview for Prospect magazine he supported the idea of new global taxes on financial transactions (the “Tobin tax”), warning that a "swollen" financial sector paying excessive salaries had grown too big for society.[10]

Institute of New Economic Thinking

On 1 April, it has been announced that Lord Turner would be joining George Soros' economic think tank as a senior research fellow in its London offices.


On 7 September 2005 he was created a life peer as Baron Turner of Ecchinswell. Ecchinswell is in the County of Hampshire, and his award in recognition of his public service to the nation (he has a cottage in Ecchinswell).

Personal life

In 1985 he married Orna Ní Chionna, whom he met at McKinsey. She comes from Ireland, and was born c. 1956. She is now Kensington, London, UK.


External links

  • FSA - Official Biography
  • Biography of Adair Turner at the former Pensions Commission
  • Announcement of his introduction at the House of Lords House of Lords minutes of proceedings, 12 October 2005
  • profile 4 December 2005
  • article 25 November 2005
  • profile 25 November 2005
  • Adair Turner Biography
  • profile 7 February 2003
  • [1]
Political offices
Preceded by
Howard Davies
Director of the Confederation of British Industry
Succeeded by
Digby Jones
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