Bank of England’s Bailey Is Surprise Choice for Chief of U.K. Regulator, FCA

By | January 26, 2016

Bank of England Deputy Governor Andrew Bailey will become the new chief executive officer of the U.K. Financial Conduct Authority, as the Chancellor George Osborne turned to a familiar face following a six-month search for the country’s top markets regulator.

Bailey, 56, will take over from acting CEO Tracey McDermott for a five-year term once his successor at the Prudential Regulation Authority, where he’s currently CEO, is found, the U.K. Treasury said in a statement Tuesday. The FCA said in a separate statement he was expected to take up the role in July 2016.

“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,” Osborne, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, said in the statement. “His appointment is an important next step in the establishment of the FCA as a strong regulator, independent of government and industry.”

The search for a new chief of the FCA has been under way since last summer when Osborne ousted former CEO Martin Wheatley in July, saying “different leadership” was needed. The move came on the back of comments from Osborne that the era of “ever- larger” fines for bank misconduct was over.

Today’s announcement is the first time Bailey’s name had been connected to the top FCA job during a lengthy search that was heavily covered in national newspapers.

Drop-Outs

The search has been punctuated recently by candidates that withdrew from the race. McDermott pulled out of the running last year, while media reports Monday said former CEO of Ofcom Ed Richards also pulled out of the process. Other candidates linked to the role were Greg Medcraft, the head of the Australian markets regulator, and Swiss regulatory chief Mark Branson.

The appointment of Bailey, who is already a member of the FCA board, brings an end to a 30-year career at the Bank of England where he has held roles including executive director for banking services and chief cashier. He became CEO of the PRA when it was created from the former Financial Services Authority in April 2013. The FSA was split in two to create the FCA and PRA in a government effort to better manage regulation and supervision of the banking sector post-crisis.

Bailey studied at the University of Cambridge where he received a degree in history and a Ph.D. in economic history.

In taking up the FCA role, Bailey may face a tough road ahead after the regulator has come in for criticism over a number of issues in the last two years, including a a botched press briefing in 2014 that sent shares in the insurance market tumbling and, more recently, a decision to drop a review into banking culture.

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