Martin Wheatley, the CEO of the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority, is to step down on 12 September 2015. He will remain as an advisor to the FCA’s Board until the end of January 2016. The FCA’s press release does not give a reason for Wheatley’s departure, although there is speculation in the London market that Wheatley has decided to go for two reasons: (a) his “shoot first, ask questions later” approach to enforcement sits too uncomfortably with the end of the “banker bashing” era recently announced by the UK government; and (b) he’s been heavily criticised, in the relatively recent past, by the UK’s Treasury Select Committee (our blog about this is here).
Notwithstanding this speculation, Wheatley’s departure is unlikely to be welcomed by many in the City. Some observers may also spot an irony: Wheatley was a major contributor to the Fair and Effective Markets Review, which enabled the beginning of the end of “banker bashing“.
Tracey McDermott, the former head of the FCA’s enforcement division, whose star has so clearly been in the ascendancy in the recent past, will be taking over as Acting Chief Executive from September 12 while the search for a permanent CEO takes place.