Burt was born in 1944 in East Africa, and educated in Scotland. He graduated from the University of St Andrews and the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School and later worked in the computer industry in California and Scotland.
Bank of Scotland
Burt joined the Bank of Scotland in 1975, working in the international and oil and energy department. He rose to become head of the international division in 1985, treasurer and chief general manager in 1988 and eventually Chief Executive in 1996.
The main events of his stewardship were the failed takeover bid for the NatWest Bank and the merger with Halifax plc to form HBOS. Following the merger, he served as Deputy Chairman of HBOS and Governor of the Bank of Scotland, (a largely ceremonial role) from 2001 to 2003, and left the board afterwards.
By September 2008 HBOS was revealed to be in a poor financial condition and word broke of advanced merger talks with Lloyds TSB, the reports were later confirmed. In light of this development, news surfaced on 8 November of a letter from Burt and his contemporary Sir George Mathewson to HBOS Chairman Lord Stevenson. The letter recommended the immediate resignation of Lord Stevenson and HBOS Chief Executive Andy Hornby. The letter explained that the roles of Chairman and Chief Executive would be filled by Mathewson and Burt respectively and that HBOS would continue to trade as an independent bank majority owned by The Treasury. However the proposal was rejected by the bank in a swift response by Lord Stevenson and failed to win the endorsement of the UK Government The proposal was withdrawn on 20 November 2008.