I wish Mr Bailey well in his new role - he is perfectly suited to the task ahead but may find post-Brexit Britain a little more of a challenge than he expects. Either way he’s a decent choice and his background and experience will stand him in good stead.
He is, after all, an “extraordinary public servant”, as Mark Carney called him on his appointment today. Interestingly the same words he used back in 2016 when Mr Bailey became FCA chief executive so at least he’s consistent.
I know industry veterans who are critical of the FCA under Mr Bailey. They talk about the oversights, London Capital & Finance being just one, and the missed early interventions, Woodford being one.
Mr Bailey must also have winced when he read stories recently about the leaked internal memo at the FCA warning staff about their sometimes dismal behaviour at the spanking new FCA HQ. Suggestions of staff defecating on the toilet floor did not imply a highly professional regulator employing the finest staff.
Still, I’m sure he won’t find that sort of thing at the Bank of England and the FCA is not alone in suffering staff issues.
So what next for the FCA? The short answer is no-one knows for sure. The timing of Mr Bailey’s departure from the FCA straight after the election is surely no more than a coincidence and we have known for some time that Mr Carney was off. You sort of wonder why the FCA did not have a replacement ready.
The Treasury says that an interim FCA CEO will be appointed until a permanent replacement. Mr Bailey will stay in post until March at the FCA to ensure a smooth handover but his eyes will be on his new prize and the world stage.
It’s a fact though that the FCA has gone through a good few CEOs over the last 5 years including two interim CEOs if you count the next one. You could be forgiven for thinking that no-one wanted the job.
In fact the next interim CEO will be the fourth CEO in 5 years to be followed by a permanent CEO who will be the fifth. I make that a batting average of a new CEO approximately once a year. Not good.
The rumble on the street is that there may be some break-up of the FCA or some significant change. Of course, the FCA itself was a renaming (or as I prefer to call it re-branding) of the Financial Services Authority, it’s predecessor.
Maybe a similar ‘Doctor Who-style’ rebirth is one the cards. We’ll find out soon enough.
If there is a ‘re-org’ - as Dilbert would say - I would suggest a moratorium on any more new initiatives, consultation papers, discussion papers and the like and a meaningful effort to engage with all stakeholders about the direction the FCA should take and what would bring about the maximum benefit for consumer protection so we avoid - as much as possible - any more LCF debacles. We’ll see.
• This is my last column for the year but I’ll be back in the New Year on 10 January. In the meantime thanks for all your kind comments about this column over the last year and I hope I’ve provided a few things to think about. Have a Merry Christmas and very prosperous New Year. Financial Planning Today will be available 24/7 over the Christmas and New Year unless someone trips over the server cable.
Kevin O’Donnell is editor of Financial Planning Today and a financial journalist with 30 years experience. This topical comment on the Financial Planning news appears most weeks.