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Lord Hunt

Lord David Hunt of the Wirral may be stepping down as Aifa chairman but one can be sure that he will have plenty on his plate to keep him busy. Besides being a senior partner with City law firm Beachcroft Wansbroughs and starting a financial services consultancy, he also has his duties in the House of Lords where he takes the lead for the Conservatives on financial services matters.

Then there are the 60 charities and voluntary organisations he is involved in such as the British Heart Foundation and the Tory Reform Group although he also intends to step down from most of these organisations and stick with only a dozen or so closest to his heart.

Hunt wants to concentrate on making the consultancy a success and he feels he owes it to his law firm which essentially allowed him to put his solicitor duties on the back-burner while he pursued a successful political career.

Beachcroft Wansbroughs specialises in financial services, with six out of its top 10 clients being leading players in the industry, and Hunt estimates that 400 of the 700 companies the firm does work for are in financial services.

The new consultancy will target this bank of clients although not exclusively. Work will vary from assisting with responses to the various consultation papers from the FSA to helping clients in dealing with regulatory changes.

The goal is to turn the consultancy into a multi-million-pound enterprise using the staff&#39s wealth of knowledge.

Hunt is angered by what the regulator is trying to accomplish through CP121 because he believes the reforms fly in the face of what the FSA publicly states is its objective.

He says: “CP121 is one of the most complicated documents it has been my misfortune to interpret. I want the FSA to put their money where their mouth is. They constantly talk about a light touch but what is happening is the complete opposite, a very heavy-handed approach.”

Hunt is proud of the job Aifa has done in influencing the FSA over depolarisation, specifically over what appears to be a climb-down about the defined-payment system.

He is not opposed to all reform in principle but feels strongly that, whatever happens, a strong independent sector must remain.

He says: “There is a very strong, vibrant and healthy independent advice sector and it is essential that this continues to be the case.”

Hunt does not blame FSA chairman Howard Davies for much of the heavy approach. He says that despite Davies&#39 best efforts, old attitudes prevail in the corridors of Canary Wharf.

His reason for stepping down at Aifa now is to avoid any appearance of conflict of interest between the trade body and the new consultancy.

Hunt has gone on record many times in the past about his frustration at the seemingly countless reviews which dog the industry. He says: “We need more reviews like we need a hole in the head. There has been more reviews of this industry than the most successful West End musical.”

H unt thinks the plethora of reviews demonstrates that the Government simply does not understand the importance of financial services to the UK. “The Government appears to be unaware of the significant contribution the financial services industry makes to the UK economy. One of the key decisions that the Government has to make is to recognise the importance of financial services.”

It is not a surprise, perhaps, that Hunt is not enthralled with Labour&#39s efforts when it comes to financial services. After all, he did represent Wirral in Merseyside as a Conservative MP during one Labour and two Tory administrations.

During that time, he served as a minister in several departments, including defence, energy, trade, environment and the Welsh office. It appears that political crises followed Hunt throughout his career.

He says he was a defence minister during the Falklands War, a coal minister during the miners&#39 strike and a local government minister while poll tax was implemented.

But Hunt insists he will never publish his memoirs as he thinks the general quality of autobiographies written by former politicians is abysmal. Nowadays, he has taken a step back from partisan politics, sitting in the comparatively benign atmosphere of the House of Lords.

He says: “The upper chamber is very different from the House of Commons. The Lords allows you to develop arguments in a non-party political environment.”

One of Hunt&#39s greatest joys is that he has effectively cut travel out of his life. He lives in Westminster and walks to most places, including Parliament and his City law office. Walking is one of his favourite pastimes. For his 60th birthday recently, a friend gave him a book detailing walks around London and he is looking forward to exploring them.

Hunt&#39s other great love is cricket. He is a keen follower of both England and Lancashire. He did not think England&#39s recent Test victories against Sir Lanka got the attention they deserved because most of the focus was on the football World Cup.

He combines his love of cricket with work, serving as the appointed solicitor for both the England and Wales Cricket Board and the Lancashire County Cricket Board. He declares. “At the moment, I could not imagine being happier.”

Born: Llangollen, North Wales, 1942

Lives: Westminster, London

Education: History and classics at Liverpool College, law at Bristol University

Career: Joined Beachcroft Wansbroughs 1968, elected Conservative MP for Wirral 1976-1983 and Wirral West 1983-1997, PPS to Trade Secretary 1979-1981, PPS to Defence Secretary 1981, Parliamentary under-secretary of state at Department of Energy 1984-1987, minister of state at the Department of the Environment (minister for local government and inner cities) 1989-1990, Secretary of State for Wales 1990-1993, Employment Secretary 1993-1994, Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and minister for public service and science 1994-1995, senior partner at Beachcroft Wansbroughs 1996, Baron Hunt of the Wirral 1997

Life Ambition: To be a grandfather

Peers say: “A razor-sharp intellect tempered by an affable and warm personality.”

Drives: Walks most places, occasionally borrows his wife&#39s 1959 frog-eyed Sprite

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