Osborne shows Wheatley the door

FCA chief executive Martin Wheatley is stepping down after Chancellor George Osborne announced that the regulator needed ‘different leadership’ to take it into its next phase.

Wheatley will step down in September and continue to act as an adviser to the FCA Board until January 31 2016 with a particular emphasis on the implementation of the Fair and Effective Markets Review, which he co-chaired.

Tracey McDermott, executive board member and director of supervision – investment, wholesale & specialists, will be taking over as acting chief executive from September 12 while the search for a permanent chief executive takes place.

Wheatley had been criticised for a confrontational style, that had sought to lead the news agenda through briefings of journalists. Former director of supervision Clive Adamson resigned in December 2014 following a briefing of a Telegraph journalist that led to £6bn being wiped off insurance company shares. Wheatley remained in place following that incident, but in March 2015 a Treasury Select Committee report was very critical of the institution’s ethos, with chairman Martin Tyrie describing the organisation as ‘dysfunctional’.

Osborne said today: “Britain needs a tough, strong financial conduct regulator. Martin Wheatley has done a brilliant job of launching the FCA in tough circumstances.

“Now that phase is complete, the Government believes that different leadership is required to build on those foundations and take the organisation to the next stage of its development.

“The Government is launching a worldwide search; Martin’s replacement will – like him – need to be passionate about protecting consumers, promoting competition and completing the job of cleaning up the City, so it is the best-regulated market in the world.”

John Griffith-Jones, Chairman of the FCA said: “Martin has done an outstanding job as Chief Executive setting up and leading the FCA over the last four years. We owe him a lot and I and my Board would like to thank him for his great efforts in setting up the organisation and for the contribution he has made to putting conduct so firmly at the top of the financial services agenda.

Wheatley said: “I am incredibly proud of all we have achieved together in building the FCA over the last four years. I know that the organisation will build on that strong start and work so that the financial services industry continues to thrive.”