Financial Conduct Authority chairman quits after four years

·3-min read
Charles Randell is quitting as chairman of the FCA (FCA/PA)
Charles Randell is quitting as chairman of the FCA (FCA/PA)

The chairman of the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has announced plans to step down from his role amid tensions among staff over a proposed overhaul.

Charles Randell told Chancellor Rishi Sunak to start looking for a replacement ahead of him quitting next spring, along with his position as chairman of the Payment Systems Regulator.

He joined the FCA in April 2018 and said it is the right time to leave as the watchdog’s chief executive launches a series of transformation plans and attempts to move on from recent criticism over the London Capital & Finance (LCF) scandal.

Mr Randell said: “As the FCA prepares to implement its new wholesale, retail and data strategies under an established new executive, now is the right time for a new chair to carry on the close and continuous oversight of our transformation.”

The transformation plan being rolled out by FCA boss Nikhil Rathi aims to strengthen the regulator, although some staff have been left demoralised as pay structures are scrapped, leading to unions formally requesting recognition from management.

This week the Unite union said it has seen a surge in membership at the FCA, with many said to be unhappy at the proposed changes.

During his tenure, Mr Randell managed the fallout from the collapse of mini-bond firm LCF which went bust in 2019 after raising £237 million from 11,000 small investors.

Charles Randell has announced he will leave the FCA next year (HM Treasury/PA) (PA Media)
Charles Randell has announced he will leave the FCA next year (HM Treasury/PA) (PA Media)

A report by former High Court judge Dame Elizabeth Gloster last year found that the FCA failed to properly regulate and supervise the business.

The Treasury Select Committee said the FCA needed a culture change and was critical of the watchdog’s decision to give a promotion to a member of staff highlighted by Dame Elizabeth’s report.

At a select committee hearing in April, a Government minister failed to give his backing to Mr Randell after repeated questions.

It was also revealed that Mr Randell, a former commercial finance lawyer, had invested in controversial film scheme Ingenious, used by celebrities and sportsmen to reduce their tax bills.

He repaid HM Revenue & Customs £100,000 and called the investment an error of judgment.

More recently, he has been speaking out about cryptocurrencies and other high-risk investments being pushed on social media.

In a speech, he said celebrities who endorse financial products on social media are “betraying the trust” of their fans, and vowed to hold them accountable if they cost the public money.

Mr Sunak said: “Charles has led both boards during the UK’s transition to our new position outside the EU, through the vital economic response to the Covid-19 pandemic and supporting the important transition following Nikhil Rathi’s arrival as new CEO of the FCA.”

However, there were suggestions that it was surprising Mr Randell was not offered a second term in the post.

Simon Morris a financial services partner with law firm CMS, said: “It is surprising that Charles Randell has either declined, or not been offered, the customary second term as chairman.

“The FCA is giving no clues, but this unusual situation suggests that either Mr Randell is disenchanted with the FCA’s current direction or, perhaps more likely, is stepping down as an acknowledgement of the chair’s responsibility over the FCA’s failures in regulating London Capital.”

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