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Knight firm rebrands and recruits ex-FSA director

Checkmate Mortgages has appointed former FSA director Ronnie Baird and ex-Stroud & Swindon chief executive David Hill to its board as it rebrands to Portillion.

The firm has also signalled its intention to collect retail deposits, with the creation of a savings director role in a raft of new appointments.

Baird joins as senior non-executive director and chairman of the audit committee. He was FSA director of internal audit. Hill, who joins as chief financial officer, stepped down as CEO and CFO of Stroud & Swindon last August after nine years. His resignation followed losses of £3.4m posted by the society.

Philip Dearing, previously chief executive officer at Market Harborough Building Society, has been appointed savings director, Gerald Gregory, previously a director of Britannia Building Society, has been appointed non-executive chairman and David Kindred, ex-head of decision sciences at Lloyds Banking Group, becomes chief risk officer.

Stephen Knight, ex-executive chairman at GMACRFC, remains chief executive officer.

The firm says the new name is derived from the French word “portillon”, meaning the security gate in front of a castle, and is the result of extensive research carried out last year.

Portillion non-executive chairman Gerald Gregory says: “The board, management team and governance structure that has been put in place at Portillion is as good as I have seen anywhere in the industry. When the time is right to launch, I am sure we will improve choice and benefits for customers.”

First Action Finance head of communications Jonathan Cornell says: “If you look at the talent of the board, that is a major heavyweight industry board.

“We need to support Portillion because it will be an intermediary-only lender.

“I would think that it is a case of the stronger the board you have got, the more trusting the FSA will be.”

Burwood Financial Consultants managing director Peter Suttill says: “There are a lot of resources going into it and they are making sure they have got the right quality of people. It will be interesting to see how they participate in the market.”

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