Uncertainty at FSA as chief resigns

Hector Sants has resigned as chief executive of the Financial Services Authority (FSA) after a three-year stint. He will leave in the summer. The FSA is to be stripped of its financial sector supervisory role, which will be submerged into the Bank of England, if the Tories win the general election.

What the commentators said

It’s no surprise he decided to go, said Damian Reece in The Daily Telegraph. If you had been boss of the primary financial regulator, why become “second fiddle” in a merger with the Bank? It can’t have helped that he chose “the worst three years in history” to run a financial regulator, as Andrew Hill pointed out in the FT. He had to deal with both the crisis and the regulatory changes afterwards, defending and then reforming the institution. Inevitably, his record is “mixed”.

As head of wholesale regulation at the FSA from 2004, he saw no danger in investment banks’ activities, despite his background in that field, said David Wighton in The Times. But post-crisis he started to change the FSA from “half-poodle, half-pussycat to something resembling a creature with teeth”. His departure comes at an “awkward” moment, said Louise Armistead in The Daily Telegraph. It’s not just the uncertainty surrounding the FSA. Britain is currently deciding whether to opt for an Obama-style break-up of big banks or stick with the G20 approach to global regulation. Hants leaves just as we “hesitate at the crossroads”.

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