How the FCA board debated Martin Wheatley exit

The FCA board debated the handling of chief executive Martin Wheatley’s departure just one day before it was announced to the market.

Minutes from the FCA’s July board meeting, published yesterday, reveal how quickly the regulator moved in announcing Wheatley was leaving.

The meeting was held on 16 July, and refers to the Treasury’s “very recent decision” not to renew Wheatley’s contract when it expired on 31 March 2016. The news was announced the following day.

Wheatley and Tracey McDermott, who was later to be appointed interim chief executive, did not attend the meeting.

The minutes state the board “agreed that Mr Wheatley’s employment contract would be terminated by mutual agreement and he

would step down as chief executive at an agreed date prior to 31 March.”

FCA chairman John Griffith-Jones argued director of supervision was “the most credible candidate” to become interim chief executive, and the board agreed her appointment be recommended to the Treasury.

The minutes add: “Mr Griffith-Jones then proposed that Mr Wheatley would continue in the role of chief executive until mid-September 2015 and then would continue in an advisory role with a particular focus on special projects, including the Fair and Effective Markets Review, until January 2016.”

The review was established by Chancellor George Osborne in June 2014 and is aimed at tackling market abuse and insider trading.

Wheatley began working his 12-month notice period in July. His role as an FCA board adviser is expected to on a part-time basis.

From the end of January he will begin six months of gardening leave. In 2014/15 Wheatley was paid a total of £701,000, including a £92,000 bonus.

The minutes also reveal the board felt given the change to senior management, the board should be strengthened as soon as possible. It was suggested director of strategy and competition Chris Woolard be appointed to the board, which was recommended to the Treasury.