Myners has worked in the financial sector since 1974. He has also held a number of third sector posts, including chairman of the trustees of the Tate and chairman of the Low Pay Commission, all of which he relinquished on his ministerial appointment. Immediately prior to his ministerial appointment he was chairman of the Guardian Media Group, publisher of The Guardian and The Observer newspapers, and chairman of Land Securities, the largest quoted property company in Europe at that time. He is a former chairman of Marks & Spencer and deputy chairman of PowerGen.
Paul Myners was adopted at an early age by a Cornish family, and grew up in Truro. His adopted father was a self-employed butcher and his mother a hairdresser. He attended Truro School, an independent Methodist school, on a scholarship. He graduated from the University of London, with a first class honours degree in Education and a Certificate in Education (teaching qualification), and became a secondary school teacher in Wandsworth with the Inner London Education Authority (1971–72). He left teaching after two years and joined The Daily Telegraph as a financial journalist moving into the financial sector in 1974 as a junior portfolio manager at N M Rothschild & Sons.
Although his political views are not well known, The Independent reported that "a Labour Cabinet insider" said of him that "for a City grandee he has a genuine instinct for social justice." Myners has never donated to the Labour Party, but in 2007 he gave £12,700 to Gordon Brown's leadership campaign.
He is married to Alison Macleod, who is chair of the Institute of Contemporary Art and a former chair of the Contemporary Art Society and trustee of The Royal Academy Trust.
He has a residence near Falmouth, Cornwall.
In 1985, he moved to pension fund manager Gartmore Group as chief executive, becoming chairman in 1987 and remaining there until 2001. During this period the funds managed by Gartmore rose from £1.2bn in 1985 to £75bn in 2001, and Myners earned an estimated £30m. With his retirement from Gartmore in 2001 he chose to focus on a wider range of interests, acting as non-executive director and chairman in a number of companies and third sector institutions.
He was a director at NatWest until it was taken over by Royal Bank of Scotland in the spring of 2000. In 2000 he became Chairman of the Guardian Media Group, publisher of The Guardian and The Observer newspapers.
In August 2010, Myners joined the board of RIT Capital Partners PLC, a substantial investment fund chaired and sponsored by Lord (Jacob) Rothschild, and later that year he became a Trustee of ARK, the charity supported by London's major hedge fund managers.
Prior to his October 2008 ministerial appointment he was a member of the Court of the Bank of England (director). He is a former Chairman of The Association of Investment Trust Companies and has also been a member of the Financial Reporting Council (FRC) and The Panel on Takeovers and Mergers. He has compiled reports on institutional investment (the Myners Report, questioning whether pension funds were acting in the interests of their beneficiaries), equity capital raising and governance for HM Treasury and the Department of Trade and Industry [two reports before 1997 and three after]. Between August 2007 and October 2008 he was Chairman of the Personal Accounts Delivery Authority (PADA), the body tasked with implementing the UK Government's plans for a new national pensions savings scheme for private sector workers on low and moderate incomes. He resigned this position on his appointment as a minister.
He also served on the Commission on English Prisons, established by the Howard League for Penal Reform, and the Green Fiscal Commission, and was a member of the Commission on Vulnerable Employment sponsored by the TUC, and a trustee of the Smith Institute, an education and public policy think tank. He is a past Chairman of the Trustees of the Tate and Chairman of the Low Pay Commission, a past trustee at the National Gallery and the Royal Academy Trust, trustee of the Charity Aid Foundation and served on the Advisory Council of St. Paul's Cathedral Institute. Myners resigned from all current posts to avoid conflict of interest with his government post.
On 3 October 2008 he was appointed Financial Services Secretary to the Treasury (a position sometimes referred to as City Minister) in HM Treasury, in Prime Minister Gordon Brown's ministry. He was created a Life Peer on 16 October 2008, gazetted as "Baron Myners, of Truro in the County of Cornwall". Shortly after his appointment Myners underwent a "baptism of fire", working on the £500bn 2008 United Kingdom bank rescue package.
In February 2009 Lord Myners was at the centre of controversy concerning the amount of pension paid to Fred Goodwin, the former chairman of the Royal Bank of Scotland. Myners said that he did not approve the details of Goodwin's pension settlement when it was arranged the previous autumn as part of the government's bailout of RBS, pointing out that this was a matter for the Board of RBS. However, former RBS chairman Sir Tom McKillop disputed Myners' account in later evidence to the Treasury Select Committee, insisting that "every element" of Goodwin's financial compensation on leaving the bank had been fully discussed with Myners. The Treasury Committee concluded in their report that "…it would have been far better if Lord Myners had given a stronger, clearer direction of Government requirements for a bank in receipt of public funds and had assured himself by demanding to be kept informed of the detailed negotiations that were taking place…. It would, we believe, have been open to Lord Myners to insist that Goodwin should have been dismissed…. The RBS Board had shown itself to be incompetent in the management of the bank, steering it towards catastrophe… We suspect that Lord Myners' City background, and naiveté as to the public perception of these matters, may have led him to place too much trust in an RBS Board that he himself described to us as "distinguished". The Chancellor of the Exchequer gave Myners responsibility for a number of major agencies sponsored by the Treasury including The Debt Management Office, National Savings & Investment, UK Financial Investments and the Asset Protection Agency. Myners also handled the routine ministerial interface between the Treasury and the Financial Services Authority.
On 8 June 2010, Myners made headlines with a speech he made in the Lords. He said, "We clearly need a policy of fiscal caution. It was right to support the economy during the global recession but there now needs to be fiscal adjustment, as evidenced by the last Government in the Fiscal Responsibility Act. There is nothing progressive about a Government which consistently spends more than it can raise in taxation, and certainly nothing progressive that endows generations to come with the liabilities incurred by the current generation without evidence of productive investment to match."
From 2002 to 2007 he was chairman of Aspen Insurance Holdings, a Bermuda-based insurance company.
From 2006 to 2008 he was chairman of Liberty Ermitage, a fund-of-funds manager.
In February 2011, Lord Myners became chairman and a partner of Autonomous Research LLP, an independent equity research firm.
In June 2011, Lord Myners became chairman and a partner of Cevian Capital (UK) LLP, the UK arm of Cevian Capital, the largest active ownership (or activist) manager in Europe.
In October 2012, Lord Myners was appointed President of the Howard League for Penal Reform, replacing the outgoing Lord Carlile of Berriew QC.
In March 2013, Lord Myners joined the board of OJSC MegaFon, the London-listed company that is one of the three largest mobile operators in Russia.
Lord Myners is the chairman of Platform Acquisition Holdings Ltd, which in May 2013 listed on the London Stock Exchange, raising $905 million earmarked for acquiring a target business which is expected to have an enterprise value of between $750 million and $2.5 billion.
In December 2013 he joined the Board of the troubled Co-operative Group as senior independent director to produce and publish for the members an independent report on governance. The Co-op Group is the largest mutual in the UK with 8 million members and annual turnover of nearly £10 billion. It was brought close to collapse in the year by losses in its banking subsidiary. The Co op is the largest convenience store retailer in the UK. Myners limited his payment for this work to £1. He also resigned the Labour whip in the House of Lords and moved to sit with the non-politically aligned crossbenchers to avoid any conflict of interest between The Co-operative Party, an affiliated party to the Labour Party.
On 1 February 2015 Lord Myners was appointed Chair of the Court of Governors and Council of the London School of Economics and Political Science, succeeding Peter Sutherland.
In 2016, Lord Myners took up role as University Chancellor of the University of Exeter from Baroness Benjamin.
In October 2016, Lord Myners became Vice Chairman of Global Counsel, a public policy consultancy.
Myners was awarded a CBE in 2001. He also has an Honorary Doctorate in Law from the University of Exeter and is a Visiting Fellow at Nuffield College Oxford. He is also an Executive Fellow of London Business School.
In July 2010 he was elected chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Corporate Governance and in November 2010 he was admitted as an Honorary Fellow of the Association of Corporate Treasurers.