Lloyds CFO George Culmer to Retire as Seven Years Is `Enough'

(Bloomberg) -- Seven years “is more than enough time at any company that has to put up with me.”

That’s George Culmer’s assessment as he steps down as chief financial officer of Britain’s largest mortgage lender. His comments may come as surprise to Lloyds Banking Group Plc chief Antonio Horta-Osorio, who has been at the bank just as long.

“I am retiring, and retiring means I am retiring,” Culmer said, responding to a question on whether he would consider another job in the industry. “It’s time. By the time I leave the company, I will have been here for 7 years and 7 years is more than enough for any company that has to put up with me,” he said.

Direct, easy going, and known for his jokes, even during serious board discussions, Culmer, 55, has been instrumental in slashing costs and managing one of the most expensive scandals for the bank -- the mis-selling of payment protection insurance. He has worked with Horta-Osorio on restoring the bank to full private ownership after a state bailout during the throes of the financial crisis.

“His retirement decision marks a significant loss for the bank,” said John Cronin, an analyst at Goodbody Stockbrokers.

Horta-Osorio was appointed chief executive officer in 2011 and as Culmer will retire next year, it will be 8 years under his leadership. He is one of the most highly paid bank chiefs in the U.K. and has imprinted a unique style of leadership at Lloyds. People who work with him have described the Portuguese boss as extremely knowledgeable, a perfectionist, direct, commanding and surrounded by a very loyal team.

The chief financial officer has been viewed by some as a potential candidate to replace Horta-Osorio. Only last year, his role was expanded to include oversight of the bank’s legal and strategy teams, as well as the bank’s Lloyds Development Capital private-equity unit. However, Culmer has not been interested in replacing his boss, people close to him said.

“When I stop, I am stopping,” he said. “This is what I told my wife, and this is what I am going to do,” he said joking with reporters during a call after its third-quarter earnings.

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