New Boss of City Watchdog Can Expect a Busy First Day; the Financial Services Industry Is Going through Some of the Most Difficult Times in Its History. but Is the New Head of the FSA, Up to the Job of Sorting out of the Mess? John Cranage Reports

The Birmingham Post (England), July 15, 2003 | Go to article overview

New Boss of City Watchdog Can Expect a Busy First Day; the Financial Services Industry Is Going through Some of the Most Difficult Times in Its History. but Is the New Head of the FSA, Up to the Job of Sorting out of the Mess? John Cranage Reports


Byline: John Cranage

John Tiner is going to be a very busy man when he takes up the newly-created post of chief executive of City watchdog and regulator the Financial Services Authority on September 22.

The financial services industry is awash with scandal, from Equitable Life to endowment mortgages, from split capital trusts to precipice bonds -all of which have stripped billions of pounds from the wealth of UK investors: all of which need to be sorted out.

Then there's the little matter of of the FSA's own pension fund: at the last count it was more than pounds 100 million in the red and its doors are firmly shut to new recruits, just like thousands of other final salary schemes.

In other words, the FSA itself is a part of the mosaic of misery that is condemning millions of people to an impoverished old age.

The body's top executives, including Mr Tiner, are, it almost goes without saying, beneficiaries of a 'top hat' scheme that should ensure them a comfortable living when they hand in their security passes.

With offices at Canary Wharf, the FSA is a gargantuan regulator-cum-watchdog -one respected City commentator recently called it 'the biggest, most comprehensive and cumbersome financial regulator in history' -that grew out of Chancellor Gordon Brown's decision in May 1997 to take a strimmer to the thicket of City and consumer finance regulators and create a single, all-embracing body to keep the City of London on the straight and narrow and ensure that consumers get a fair financial deal.

The feeling is that under its founding chairman and chief executive Sir Howard Davies the FSA has fallen short on all counts.

It has been attacked even by its own in-house complaints commissioner who accused it of being too slow to follow up complaints, and Sir Howard himself was famously accused by the Treasury Select Committee of being 'asleep on the job' after the FSA failed to prevent parts of the split capital trust sector from collapsing and taking billions of pounds of investors' cash with it.

But now the jobs of chairman and chief executive are split.

Mr Tiner, who joined the FSA in 2001 from Arthur Andersen, the global accountancy firm disgraced by its involvement in Enron and other US audit scandals, becomes chief executive while Callum McCarthy, currently chairman of the Gas and Electricity Markets Authority, takes on the chairmanship. …

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New Boss of City Watchdog Can Expect a Busy First Day; the Financial Services Industry Is Going through Some of the Most Difficult Times in Its History. but Is the New Head of the FSA, Up to the Job of Sorting out of the Mess? John Cranage Reports
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