Big Bang in 1986 involved major changes to dealing structures and processes, but no change was made to the London Stock Exchange’s existing Talisman settlement system. It quickly became clear that Talisman would soon be unable to cope with growing volumes, and the Exchange began to plan a replacement system, Taurus, which it believed would meet long-term market needs. Regrettably, after several years’ work and expenditure of about £400m, the Exchange was forced in 1992 to admit that the development had failed. The Bank of England filled the management vacuum and proposed a new project, CREST, which would be funded by the UK securities sector, and developed and implemented by a team seconded from the Bank. The project had clear funding and timing targets.
Iain's intellect and clarity of vision earned the respect of the sector and of his colleaguesIain, an Aberdonian with a PhD in Theoretical Physics from Oxford, was the Bank executive nominated to lead the CREST team. He had wide experience at the Bank, including management of the UK reserves. Neither Iain nor the dozen or so seconded executives had prior experience in settlement but worked intensively with the securities sector to define its basic needs. The team then developed, trialled and inaugurated the new system on time, in July 1996, and on budget, which was a little over £20m. CREST’s operational efficiency quite quickly enabled a ten-fold increase in UK equity trades, and the system was subsequently enhanced to embrace gilts and international securities.
As chief executive of CRESTco, Iain was at the heart of this successful UK project. His intellect and clarity of vision earned the respect of the sector and of his colleagues. He led from the front, aimed for perfection, and was never phased by others’ seniority or pomposity. He and the team were clear from the start that they would be judged on the ‘on time, on budget’ promise and worked tirelessly to ensure that it was fulfilled. The success of the CREST development was critical to subsequent demutualisation of building societies and insurers, and more generally to the development of London as a major dealing centre. Our sector owes a great deal to Iain and his colleagues.
Iain was appointed an Honorary Fellow of the Institute in 2000, and served as a Board member from 2002 to 2008.
Scott Dobbie CBE FCSI(Hon)
Chair, CRESTco, 1996–2001
Chair, CISI, 2000–2009