New advisory hires for government's business bank includes BGF chief executive Stephen Welton

A month after appointing former chief executive for the Bank of Scotland Peter Burt to chair an advisory board for the new business bank, the government has announced a number of further appointments.

A month after appointing former chief executive for the Bank of Scotland Peter Burt to chair an advisory board for the new business bank, the government has announced a number of further appointments.

Business Growth Fund chief executive Stephen Welton has joined a group of fellow banking, business and finance experts in an advisory capacity to the new business bank.

Welton joins the likes of Lucy Armstrong, chief executive of Alchemists, Brendan Barber, former general secretary of the TUC and Metalrax finance director Caroline Green on the panel.

Speaking exclusively to GrowthBusiness, Welton comments, ‘BGF is uniquely placed to talk about the needs of smaller and medium sized British businesses, and the challenges of setting up a major new financial institution from scratch.

‘We were invited by the government to share our experience, knowledge and insights – and naturally I am extremely happy to help in any way I can.’

The advisory group, chaired by Bank of Scotland ex-chief executive Peter Burt, are being charged with looking at how best to address the long-term problems involving the ‘effective and efficient’ provision of finance to SMEs.

Also joining the industry figures is Baroness Patience Wheatcroft, the non-executive director of Fiat Spa and of St James’s Place.

As part of the announcement, the government says that the business bank is ‘on schedule’, with the appointments taking it closer towards achieving its goals.

Burt comments, ‘Over the past 25 or more years, no government has put enough weight behind attempts to finding a solution to the SME finance problem, but I hope that this time there will be the necessary concerted effort.’

The concept of a business bank was unveiled by business secretary Vince Cable back in September 2012 on the back of Tim Breedon’s report on non-bank finance.

The institution will see private sector funding combined with £1 billion of government capital in the hope that up to £10 million of new and additional business lending can be leveraged.

According to the Department for Business, Innovations & Skills (BIS), the bank will operate at ‘arms-length’ from the government as well as being ‘professionally run’ and ‘commercially focused’.

More on the government’s business bank:

In speech during the Autumn Statement, chancellor George Osborne said that the new bank will have ‘some functions’ by spring 2013, and will be fully operational in late 2014.

Speaking on the appointments of Welton, Armstrong, Barber, Green and Wheatcroft, Cable adds, ‘Half of the group are women and half of the group are directly involved in SME finance.

‘This new institution will fill a vacuum in medium to long term credit that many viable small businesses are struggling to raise go grow and create jobs.’

More on the new appointments:

Lucy Armstrong 

Armstrong joined The Alchemists after an early career in private equity; corporate development and headhunting with 3i, Courtaulds Textiles and Tyzack. Her work involves matching up experienced and successful entrepreneurs with high growth mid-corporate businesses to accelerate their growth and success.

Brendan Barber

Having held the post since 2003, Barber recently stepped down as general secretary of the TUC. He has served on a number of public bodies, including the ACAS Council. He is a former non-executive director of the Court of the Bank of England.

Caroline Green

Green was appointed to the board of Metalrax Group as finance director in January 2012. She joined the business as director of corporate development in August 2008 with responsibility for non-core asset disposal to reduce gearing, growth initiatives, investor relations, group communications, the property portfolio and the company’s future M&A strategy.

Stephen Welton

As chief executive of the Business Growth Fund, a major new £2.5 billion investment company established in 2011 to provide long term capital and support to SMEs, Welton is responsible for overall strategy and day to day management of the company, and also chairs the Investment Committee.

Baroness Patience Wheatcroft

Baroness Wheatcroft is a non-executive director of Fiat SpA and of St James’s Place. She is an advisory board member of Huawei, a Chinese telecoms company, and Pelham Bell Pottinger, a public relations consultancy. She is also a trustee of the British Museum.


Hunter Ruthven

Hunter Ruthven

Hunter was the Editor for from 2012 to 2014, before moving on to Caspian Media Ltd to be Editor of Real Business.

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