Bank of England official appointed new chief of UK finance watchdog

By on 26/01/2016

An official from the Bank of England (BoE) has been appointed new chief executive of the UK’s financial regulator.

Andrew Bailey, chief executive of the BoE’s Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA), will head up the Financial Conduct Authority once a successor for his BoE post has been found, the UK Treasury announced today.

The announcement comes days after MPs decided to take the unprecedented step of voting on a motion of no confidence in the FCA.

The vote will take place at the House of Parliament on February 1.

It is the first time parliament has voted on such a motion about any regulator and follows accusations that the FCA is going soft on the banks which have been strongly denied.

See also: Interview: Sir Nicholas Macpherson, Permanent Secretary, HM Treasury, UK

Bailey, who will be appointed for a fixed five-year term, will replace Tracey McDermott, who has acted as interim CEO since Martin Wheatley stepped down from the post in September 2015.

Wheatley’s departure was announced last summer by chancellor George Osborne who said the City’s top watchdog needed “different leadership”.

The ousted Wheatley told a public gathering in London last year that he was “disappointed to be moving on and I do with a sense of unfinished businesses.”

Wheatley had been chief executive of the FCA for four years, establishing the regulator and leading it from its launch in April 2013.

Under his leadership, the FCA levied a record level of fines on financial firms.

See also: EU finance watchdog announces priorities for 2016

He also targeted retail banks for mis-selling products to consumers and secured sweeping new powers, including oversight of payday lenders and antitrust tools.

But Wheatley did not always have the confidence of government officials, who have privately urged regulators to take a lighter approach as the economy improves and fierce criticism of bankers falls out of favour.

At the same time, some industry executives viewed him as remote and unhelpful and complained to senior Conservative politicians about his consumer-champion agenda.

Announcing Bailey’s appointment today, Osborne said: “We have cast the net far and wide for this crucial appointment and, having led the Bank of England’s response to the financial crisis, Andrew is simply the most respected, most experienced and most qualified person in the world to do the job.

“His appointment is an important next step in the establishment of the FCA as a strong regulator, independent of government and industry.

“Anyone who has dealt with Andrew knows he will be tough but fair, and understands the flaws and merits of the sector better than anyone.”

See also: Global Government Finance Summit Report 2015

Bailey assumed his current role of deputy governor for prudential regulation and chief executive officer of the BoE’s PRA on April 1, 2013. He is also a member of the bank’s Court of Directors, the PRA Board, the Financial Policy Committee, and the Board of the FCA.

While retaining his role as executive director of the Bank, Bailey joined the Financial Services Authority in April 2011 as deputy head of the prudential business unit and director of UK banks and building societies.

Previously, he has worked at the bank in a number of areas, most recently as executive director for banking services and chief cashier, as well as head of the bank’s Special Resolution Unit.

About Winnie Agbonlahor

Winnie is news editor of Global Government Forum. She previously reported for Civil Service World - the trade magazine for senior UK government officials. Originally from Germany, Winnie first came to the UK in 2006 to study a BA in Journalism & Russian at the University of Sheffield. She is bilingual in English and German, and, after spending an academic year abroad in Russia and reporting for the Moscow Times, Winnie also speaks Russian fluently.

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