Financial Conduct Authority  

Fees should top the to-do list for the new FCA boss

Rachel Mortimer

Rachel Mortimer

New appointments at the top of the industry have certainly not dwindled despite the pandemic, but few new-starters will have a to-do list quite like that of the new FCA boss. 

Nikhil Rathi takes up the helm at the City watchdog from today as its new chief executive, and if the regulator is following its own advice it is likely he will see in his first day working from home.

Leading a watchdog which regulates almost 60,000 firms is no mean feat amid an ongoing pandemic, but this is a responsibility no doubt reflected in the top spot's handsome salary of £455,000. 

Oxford-educated Mr Rathi joins the FCA from the London Stock Exchange where he has spent the last six years of his career, most recently as its chief executive.

But it is his 11 years spent at HM Treasury which could best prepare him for the five-year term at the top of the regulator. 

During his time at the Treasury Mr Rathi served as private secretary to prime ministers Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, the latter during the Great Financial Crisis, and his latest post will similarly require frequent communication with MPs who are keen to hold him and the organisation he leads to account. 

In fact the incoming FCA boss has already survived his first appearance in front of the Treasury committee, when in July he frankly told MPs the position was not a job to take "if you want to be liked".

But Mr Rathi was also clear he did not want to rule the sector with an iron first, stating: "I wouldn't want to define myself as being feared either. I would like the FCA to be defined as tough, as assertive, as thoughtful, as decisive and working with pace and agility." 

He was clear and concise about his plans for the regulator's future, revealing plans to shake up diversity and culture and warning there were "deep" diversity issues in the financial services industry. 

The industry has been vocal in wanting a regulatory headman who will provide stability in the years ahead and steer a steady course through any storms presented by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. 

But if the headlines and my own conversations with advisers this year are anything to go by, there is one corner which tops the agenda for Mr Rathi's backing. The fight for fairer regulatory fees. 

While an overhaul in the way the Financial Services Compensation Scheme is funded would require action from the lifeboat body itself, the FCA and the Treasury, the chief executive of the City watchdog will play a vital part in any reversal of the upward trajectory on which regulatory bills are currently travelling. 

In recent months a renewed campaign has seen advisers inundate MPs with calls to petition the Treasury for a review of regulatory funding in the financial services sector.