Alan Lakey: The cosy ex-regulators club

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The recent announcement that ex-FSA managing director Jon Pain would be joining RBS confirmed the general view that a CV parading the regulator’s name is a gateway to financial success, as Sir Hector will attest. 

It affirms the opinion of former chief ombudsman Walter Merricks, who confided people often joined the FOS to add that name to their CV. The list of ex-regulators who later tip up at a major financial institution is long and sorry. 

Many join large accountancy practices, for instance David Kenmir, who left the FSA in March 2009 and is now a partner at PWC. PWC is a watering hole for other regulatory alumni such as ex-FSA managing director Margaret Cole, who took up the senior legal adviser’s role last year on a reputed £680k.

KPMG also willingly accepts regulatory ship jumpers. Fiona Fry started as head of RDR and latterly as head of regulatory risk, and she was joined by ex-FSA project panager David Dickinson. Jon Pain emerged at KPMG immediately after exiting the FSA and Clive Briault, who left the FSA with a substantial payoff, took a part-time senior advisory role in August 2010.

Thomas Huertas, former head of the FSA’s International Affairs division, and famous for wanting closer links with the banks, became a partner with Ernst & Young in September 2011. Similarly, Amanda Bowe found the RDR fiasco useful in gaining the position of UK group compliance director at Aegon.

Post-regulatory success comes no higher than for Collette Bowe. Her ignominious term as chief executive of the PIA acted as a springboard into the lucrative waters of corporate directorships.

As chair of Ofcom she received £180,000 in the 2011/12 year. Additionally, she has enjoyed tenures as executive chairman of Robert Fleming’s European asset management business and also chaired Ofcom’s consumer panel from 2003 to 2007.

Bowe also chairs Electra Private Equity and the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music, is a board member and chairman of Axa Investment Managers’ audit committee, a board member at Axa Deutschland GmBH as well as the UK Statistics Authority. Further, she is a governor of Bancrofts School, a trustee of the Tablet Trust and of the Nuffield Foundation, vice-president of the Royal Television Society and a visiting fellow at Nuffield College Oxford. She was also a previous board member at London and Continental Railways.

Dame Deirdre Hutton, like Sir Callum McCarthy, is a non-executive director of Castle Trust and also has held the following positions: vice chair of Royal Ahold, non-executive director of Thames Water and director of HM Treasury.

She also chaired the Civil Aviation Authority, the Advisory Board of the Rotterdam School of Management and the National Consumer Council, where she was replaced by Christine Farnish, herself former FSA consumer director who also chairs the Parenting and Family Institute and is a board member at both ABTA and the Aggregate Industries Board.

Carol Sergeant left the FSA in 2003 and has since been chief risk officer at Lloyds Banking Group, a director of Martin Currie and Secure Trust Bank and latterly chair of the Simple Products Steering Group.

Within the regulatory orbit, the role of individuals in collective failure is never recognised and knighthoods and OBEs seem to flow freely. “Collective responsibility” for failure, as Briault famously termed it, places a gloss on individual inadequacies and provides a cast iron alibi when regulatory ineptitude is made public.

Alan Lakey is partner at Highclere Financial Service