Advisers predict that the departure of FSA director of conduct policy Sheila Nicoll will lead to a lack of accountability if the RDR and other regulatory initiatives are later shown to have failed.
Last week it emerged Nicoll is leaving the regulator when it is replaced by the Financial Conduct Authority in April.
She joined the FSA as director of the retail firms division in October 2007 from the Investment Management Association. She replaced Dan Waters as head of retail and conduct policy in April 2009.
Nicoll has led some of the FSA’s flagship initiatives, including the RDR, the mortgage market review and the funding review of the Financial Services Compensation Scheme.
An FSA spokeswoman says Nicoll has not accepted another role within financial services at this stage. Nicoll will work with director of policy, risk and research Chris Woolard to ensure a smooth transition.
A number of senior FSA staff have quit recently including chief executive Hector Sants, head of the conduct business unit Margaret Cole and head of investment policy Peter Smith.
Thameside Wealth director Tom Kean says Nicoll’s decision to leave “smacks of careful career management”.
He adds: “Those with any sense at the FSA are moving away quietly to stand clear of the inevitable backlash when it becomes apparent the RDR was all highly unsuccessful and a gargantuan waste of money. When we eventually look to blame someone, the FCA can say it was not its fault. The FCA is simply a phoenix regulator.”
Facts & Figures Financial Planners managing director Simon Webster says: “All the people that have been involved in setting up the RDR are not around and not accountable. The revolving door will spin around and I dare say she will pop up in a senior role at a private financial institution and make very good money.”