BSA’s Coles to stay in industry after stepping down

Mr Coles, 58, announced last week that he was leaving the association, having joined in 1979 as an economist and taking over as director general in 1993.

When asked what his next role would be, he said he did not wish to speculate but added: “It is the right time to stand down. It is time for a change, both from my point of view and that of the association.

“A new regulatory regime will be in place shortly and it is right that a new leader takes the BSA into this new age.”

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He added that he was proud the mutual sector had led the recovery with a rise in gross lending of approximately 30 per cent during 2012, which would give his successor a “very strong” base on which to build.

BSA chairman David Webster said Mr Coles had played a pivotal role in guiding the industry through and would be a “tough act to follow”.

Mr Coles said the association would now embark on a “wide ranging” recruitment process to find his successor.

Alan Oliver, head of external affairs at Nationwide Building Society, would not be drawn on potential candidates to replace Mr Coles, but said: “We have worked very closely with Mr Coles, and he has been the face of building societies for four decades, with a reputation for dignity and composure, not least during the financial crisis.

“He really made an impact representing the needs of the BSA’s membership, and leaves a sector that is thriving after some difficult years.”