Regulation  

And the FCA winner is... disappointing

Emma Ann Hughes

Emma Ann Hughes

When he refused to renew Martin Wheatley’s contract, the chancellor made his hunt for a new FCA chief sound like a talent show.

As the hunt dragged on into a sixth month, names in the frame from far flung climes such as Australia were mentioned in the press.

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Given the chancellor’s bold statement about a global hunt I felt we should brace ourselves for something different.

It was like when Simon Cowell announced he was widening the age range for X Factor applicants.

Heck, the talent show judge said the contestants would even be allowed to play instruments.

Perhaps, at last, rather then the conveyor belt of identikit fame hungry young men and women in their early 20s or white career regulators, we would get some true talent.

Yet, the winners of the X Factor continued to generally be from the same mould as past winners and I couldn’t help but feel the same disappointment when Andrew Bailey was appointed as Mr Wheatley’s permanent replacement this week.

I hope Mr Bailey will deliver something different when it comes to regulation but on the surface he doesn’t seem particularly different from past holders of Mr Wheatley.

Mr Wheatley, who famously said he would “shoot first” and ask questions later, joined the FSA - shortly before it was replaced by the FCA - from the Hong Kong Securities and Futures Commission, where he had worked for seven years.

Before that he worked for the London Stock Exchange for 18 years.

Mr Bailey is chief executive of the Prudential Regulation Authority and has given the Bank of England “30 years of service”, according to their PR team.

Mr Bailey, who will remain in post at the PRA until his successor has been appointed, has worked in a range of areas in the Bank including as executive director for banking services and chief cashier, head of the Bank’s special resolution unit, the governor’s private secretary and head of the international economic analysis division in monetary analysis.

Last year Libertatem director Garry Heath called for a new adviser-only regulator to be carved out of the Financial Conduct Authority as part of the Financial Advice Market Review to dramatically cut the regulatory cost of delivering advice.

What we have got with Mr Bailey is a man with the word “bank” repeatedly appearing on his CV, who has been involved in policing rather than the working in the industry for three decades and the term advice is nowhere to be seen.

I hope Mr Bailey tries to understand what consumers need and want - financial advice - and creates a regime that encourages well qualified and experienced intermediaries to help more of the general public rather than just high net worths.