Acting chief executive of the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), Tracey McDermott, is to leave the regulator in July when new boss Andrew Bailey takes over.
Ms McDermott has been with the UK’s financial regulator since 2001 – first with the Financial Services Authority (FSA), where she held various roles, and then with the FCA when the new body took over supervising the UK’s financial stability in April 2014.
She was thrust into her leadership role last summer when the founding chief executive, Martin Wheatley, was ousted by Chancellor George Osborne.
Mr Wheatley had clashed with Mr Osborne after he had presided over an era of record penalties for banks when they paid up £2 billion after admitting rigging both LIBOR and the foreign exchange rate.
A litigator by training, Ms McDermott had previously held roles as Director of Enforcement and Financial Crime and Director of Supervision and Authorisations.
After being appointed acting chief it is believed she applied for the permanent post, but pulled out of the recruitment process in December. The decision was leaked by the Chancellor in a Radio 4 Today interview when he said she ‘didn’t want the job full time.’
Since then Ms McDermott has led the organisation at a time when it has been under pressure from claims it was ‘going soft’ on the banks after the FCA dropped two banking enquiries. The first was into the way banking culture had contributed to a list of scandals including PPI, LIBOR and FOREX.
Hardly had that been announced when the regulator also revealed it had scrapped a second investigation – this time into the HSBC tax dodging scandal involving their private Swiss bank.
No confidence vote
The regulator also recently survived a motion of no confidence in the House Of Commons after the late night debate ran out of time before a vote could be taken.
After announcing her withdrawal from the race for the top job she agreed to stay on until the new chief executive was appointed. The announcement that Andrew Bailey, head of the Bank Of England Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA) will take up the post has left the way open for Ms McDermott to move on to pastures new.
But not just yet
But she won’t be able to take up any new job for at least six months as she will be placed on garden leave when she leaves the FCA. Close friends have said she has not made any plans further than that.
Speaking of Ms McDermott’s decision FCA chairman, John Griffith-Jones, said: “ Tracey has done a terrific job leading the FCA over the last seven months, building on the enormous contribution she has made in her various roles after the previous 15 years.
“Transitions are always challenging and her energy and clarity of purpose have been invaluable in steering the organisation in the right direction. I know she will continue to lead the FCA with the same commitment until Andrew Bailey arrives in July and I and the Board are grateful for her unstinting support.”
New chief Andrew Bailey is a deputy governor of the Bank Of England and has led the Prudential Regulation Authority since it was created at the same time as the FCA.
It has been announced this week that he will be handing over his job to the PRA’s head of insurance, Sam Woods.