"2. He ought to be a man possessing a knowledge of commercial business. It is a matter of great importance to the satisfactory and efficient management of a bank, that those to whom is entrusted the direction of its affairs, be in some measure conversant with the ordinary affairs of trade. Men who are retired from business are unquestionably the most eligible, not merely from their business knowledge, but because they are not apt to be contemplated with that suspicion, jealousy, and distrust, which tradesmen will sometimes exercise towards such directors of a bank as are likewise engaged in trade. But retired men of business are not readily to be had as directors of a bank, nor are they in most cases disposed to accept of such an office. Where such is the case, men of high standing and character, engaged in trade, should be sought for.
"3. A bank director should be a man of strict integrity and uprightness. This is a qualification perfectly indispensable to the welfare of the bank. He must be above all trafficking in the stock of the company, or taking any undue advantage over the other shareholders through his intimate knowledge of the state of their affairs as regards the bank. He must never for a moment forget, that while he is a partner in the concern, and as an honest man is bound to conduct it in as faithful and diligent a manner as he would his own private affairs, that he is at the same time appointed to a solemn trust, in having the interests of numerous others, equally interested with himself, under his management and control. In fact, unless the director of a bank is a man of strict integrity, he is placed in a position calculated to be productive of great mischief. He is invested with power to ruin the fortunes of others, and to inflict much commercial evil upon the community. Where there is a want of integrity, there is a want of principle, and the bank must necessarily be mismanaged.
"4. A bank director should be a man of influence and respectability. He ought to be a man well known and respected in the district. Such a man is desirable in a variety of ways. He adds his own personal respectability to the establishment, and he influences the favour and support of his friends and acquaintances. His standing in society gives the public confidence in the establishment with which he is connected - and they bring their money and business to its support; the paper of the bank becomes more readily current in the district, and the weight of his influence destroys any suspicion of its stability.
"5. A bank director should be in good pecuniary circumstances. It would be a most wholesome regulation, were it stipulated in all deeds of settlement that no bank director should be privileged to overdraw his account. The great facilities which directors enjoyed of raising money from overdrawing their bank accounts, have, in some instances, resulted in extensive commercial disasters, and in the total wreck of large establishments. The temptation to speculations of all descriptions which such facilities hold out, necessarily increases the risk of the bank, and induces a less rigid inspection of the accommodation afforded to other customers. Where those who are entrusted with the management of the bank forget the extent and importance of the trust reposed in them, and begin to enter into unwarrantable speculations with the funds committed to their care, it is not supposable that they will be particularly scrupulous as to the general management of the affairs of others.
"6. A bank director should be one who can bestow some attention upon the affairs of the establishment. It has appeared in evidence that gentlemen have been appointed, and have accepted the office of directors of banks, who gave little or no attention to the affairs: who, in fact, appear to have considered that the office of director was conferred on and accepted by them more for the purpose of complying with the letter of the deed of settlement, which enjoined the appointment of a certain number of directors, than from any idea of their being expected, or of its being necessary for them to know anything regarding the management. The consequence of this has been, that the duties which devolved upon the directors, perhaps six individuals, were confined to two, or possibly only one, and the others approving, without suitable knowledge or proper inquiry, of all their acts, the mass of shareholders, as well as an extensive commercial circle, have been involved in the disastrous results of mismanagement. It is altogether an anomaly that any man, or body of men, should have the credit, honour, and distinction, of being managers and directors of a bank, and yet not exercise any of the active functions and important duties that relate thereto. Upon what principle can they undertake, as by accepting the office they unquestionably do, to discharge a solemn trust, in faithfully administering the affairs of a bank, into which they make it no part of their business to look? Were the fact not very well known, it would seem absurd; yet it is not the less absurd that it is known." l
Mr. Taylor, in his "Statesman," makes the following observations upon the age of members of public boards: -
"Boards, or other co-operative bodies, should be so formed that youthfulness and elderliness may meet in due proportion in their counsels. If any such body be wholly composed of elderly men, it will commonly be found to be ineffective, so far as invention of new courses, and intrepidity of purpose is required; and perhaps, also, unequal to any unusual amount of spontaneous activity. If, on the other hand, it be composed wholly of young men, its operations will probably be wanting in circumspection; and the foresight by which it will be guided will be too keenly directed to the objects of a sanguine expectation - too dully to prospects of evil and counteraction. The respective positions in life of the young and the old operate to these results not less than their temperaments; for the young have their way to make - a reputation to earn - and it is for their interest to be enterprising, as well as in their nature; the old have ascertained their place in life, and they have, perhaps, a reputation to lose."