Is Andrew Bailey the right man to lead the FCA?


Bank of England deputy governor and Prudential Regulation Authority chief executive Andrew Bailey’s naming as the new chief executive of the FCA is not an “obvious choice”, says one commentator.

Bailey, who has led the PRA for nearly three years, will succeed Tracey McDermott, who has been interim chief executive since Martin Wheatley stepped down in September. He is expected to take up the position in July.

Pinsent Masons senior associate and former FSA lawyer Michael Ruck says he is not sure Bailey is the “obvious choice”.

He says: “I am not sure what the approach of the FCA will be now regarding its relationship with banks. There are likely to remain questions about this.”

King & Wood Mallesons partner Tim Dolan, who also worked for the FSA, says Bailey’s appointment is a potentially very strong one but the key will be retaining Tracey McDermott, who pulled out of the race to lead the regulator earlier this month.

RPC partner Simon Laird says Bailey’s appointment seems “a sensible choice”.

He says: “At the moment Osborne is trying to achieve a balance between banks and consumers.

“Bailey understands the industry, has got bank experience and is not viewed as being in the pocket of financial services, so he strikes that balance.”

Independent regulatory consultant Richard Hobbs says the heads of other regulators around the world, who had been tipped for the role, might have been scared of “the toxicity of the UK situation”.

He says: “The PRA also has a much stronger senior management than the FCA, so it could spare one person.”

Yellowtail Financial Planning managing director Dennis Hall says: “I don’t think this is going to be a radical appointment. It is a safe pair of hands both from a Treasury and regulatory perspective. Bailey has been at the Bank of England for 30 years, meaning he is politically well connected and he will know where the wind is blowing.”

The FCA has also announced the appointment of four non-executive board members: former Treasury economic and financial secretary Ruth Kelly, Baroness Sarah Hogg, Bradley Fried from the Bank of England and Age UK group chief executive Tom Wright.