The outgoing chief executive of the Financial Conduct Authority has expressed disappointment over his departure, saying he had “unfinished business” as the City’s top regulator.
Martin Wheatley was speaking in public for the first time since the shock announcement on Friday that he would step down in September after the chancellor, George Osborne, decided not to renew his five-year contract. which was due to run out in March. He told the FCA’s annual public meeting he felt he still had work to do.
Addressing the public meeting at the Queen Elizabeth II conference centre in London, Wheatley said: “I am disappointed to be moving on and I do with a sense of unfinished businesses.”
His role as chief executive will be temporarily filled by Tracey McDermott, a senior official at the regulator.
Wheatley, a Briton, was brought to London from Hong Kong by Osborne when the coalition was overhauling City regulation in the wake of the 2008 crisis. Wheatley became the first chief executive of the FCA when the Financial Services Authority was broken up.
John Griffith-Jones, the FCA chairman, paid tribute to Wheatley: “I can tell you that establishing a culture at a new organisation is a pretty lonely top-down process.”
GrHe thanked the outgoing chief executive and said Wheatley had made the regulator effective because of his “own immense professionalism, high standards and unquestionable integrity”.
When Wheatley’s resignation was announced, Osborne said the time had come for a new figurehead for the regulator, which has levied a record level of fines on financial firms since Wheatley took the helm.
Record fines were handed down for foreign exchange rigging earlier this year and Wheatley said that conduct issues were now at the forefront of the minds of the bosses of major firms. “I’m more convinced than ever than ever that conduct is at the the front of firms’ agendas. It is no longer an afterthought”.
Michael Mason-Mahon, a member of the public speaking from the floor, was critical of the FCA and Wheatley. “Are you the worse joke that ever happened to the financial services industry?” he said, after claiming the FCA was not scrutinising information that it had received.
He also questioned why members of the board of HSBC had not been removed despite being accused of laundering cash by US regulators.
This article was written by Jill Treanor, for theguardian.com on Wednesday 22nd July 2015 11.40 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010