Born in Paddington on 16 February 1886, he came of Cornish and WM stock. During World War I he worked in the Ministry of Munitions. Joining the Abbey Road Building Society (from 1944, the Abbey National) in 1918, he became its Secretary in 1921 and oversaw a period of growth and innovation. In a distinguished career in the building society movement, he initiated the Metropolitan Building Societies Association; published The Building Society Movement (1927) and The Silent Revolution: the Influence of Building Societies on the Modern Housing Problem (1928); and his chairmanship of the National Association of Building Societies from 1933 and presidency of the International Union of Building Societies, 1934-38, won him international acclaim, especially in the USA. In 1935 he was made a Chevalier of the Légion d'honneur and an officer of the Australian Order of Merit, and received an honorary LLD from the American University in Washington DC in 1939.
He and his wife Kate (née Peacock) grew up in the Fernhead Road WM church, Paddington, where he presented a memorial windown after her death in 1959. He was a governor of Queenswood School and the LSE and general treasurer of the NCHO. He supported Ramsay Macdonald in 1931 and was knighted the following year. A voracious reader and prolific author, his autobiography was called Cornish Cockney: Reminiscences and Reflections (1947). He died in London on 1 June 1963.