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Does Hector Sants deserve to be knighted?

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Former Royal Bank of Scotland chief executive Fred Goodwin and Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe may be very different characters but will be forever linked as two of the most famous people to be stripped of knighthoods.

The banker formerly known as Sir Fred forfeited the honour last year without any regulatory or criminal sanction, as is usually required, but rather due to public anger over his role at RBS before it collapsed in 2008.

Goodwin may feel bitter to have been singled out and it sparked calls to strip knighthoods from all other leading bankers of the era such as ex-Lloyds Bank chairman Sir Victor Blank who bought HBOS in 2008. The storm subsided but the principle that those involved in the financial crisis should not be rewarded seemed strong.

It was therefore very strange to see another relic of the financial crisis, former FSA chief executive Hector Sants, given a knighthood in the New Year’s Honours List.

The decision has been met with almost universal outrage from advisers with comments on the Money Marketing website describing it as a “disgrace”, “a sick joke” and a “spoof”.

It comes shortly after Sants accepted a job as Barclays head of compliance and Government and regulatory relations. He quit the regulator in June 2012 after five years at the helm and continued to receive his £500,000 salary plus benefits until the end of last year.

So just why has Sants been honoured? The honours system professes to reward moral courage, those who enhance Britain’s reputation and who make a difference to a community.

The Government website states: “The honours system recognises people who have made great achievements in public life and people who’ve committed themselves to serving Britain. They will usually have made life better for other people or been outstanding at what they do.”

Sants’ five years in charge of the FSA includes the collapse of the Royal Bank of Scotland, HBOS and Northern Rock, Libor rigging, the PPI scandal and interest rate swap misselling.

Some may argue that Sants inherited all of these problems when he took over in July 2007, having previously been managing director of wholesale at the regulator, but his tenure is hardly littered with success.

Chancellor George Osborne thought the FSA’s record was so appalling that he ordered its abolition in 2010 and it will cease to exist early this year.

Sants was unhappy with the decision to scrap the regulator and quit his role in June 2010 but Osborne persuaded him to stay to oversee the transition to a new regulatory framework.

Perhaps as part of this persuasion the prospect of a significant honour was dangled in front of Sants?

Anyone can nominate a person for an honour which is then passed to the Honours Appointment Secretariat. The committee is made of civil servants and experts in the field so Sants will have been judged by people from the finance or business community.

Someone of Sants’ prominence is likely to have been nominated by the prime minister directly but the cabinet office says nominations are confidential.

Awards Intelligence managing director Mark Llewellyn-Slade helps people get knighthoods, promising to “significantly increase” the chances of receiving one.

He says: “I expect Sants was put forward by the prime minister because he is well known so he doesn’t have to follow the normal process. There are certain roles that you automatically get honours for and leading the FSA is one of them. It comes with the territory and whether he has done a good job is another matter.

“He is probably the most controversial of those honoured in the New Year’s list.”

Sants predecessor John Tiner, who served from 2003 to 2007, has received a CBE but not the higher honour of a knighthood. It may be that Tiner has paid the price for being in charge in the lead up to the financial crisis.

The first FSA executive chairman Sir Howard Davies, who combined both chief executive and chairman roles, was knighted after three years in the job while still serving.

The same applied to his successor as chairman Sir Callum McCarthy who was knighted in 2005, just two years into the job.

The third, and final, FSA chairman Lord Adair Turner has yet to receive the honour but has the title Baron of Ecchinswell and is a member of the House of Lords. Bank of England governor Sir Mervyn King was knighted in 2011.

FCA chief executive Martin Wheatley and PRA chief executive designate Andrew Bailey might as well begin thinking about their trip to visit the Queen.

Surely it is only a matter of time before they are recognised. If the chief UK financial regulator for the last five years is knighted after Libor rigging, misselling and massive bank failures then it appears anyone can get one.

Samuel Dale is political reporter at Money Marketing

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Comments

There are 69 comments at the moment, we would love to hear your opinion too.

  1. there is no way he sould get a knighthood with the mess he has left thei industry in . and with RDR in this could be the demise of the IFA industry other than a few. no knghthood he sould be on the unempolyed line

  2. simply NO, the chaos that man and his team has caused clients is astounding, this country has a habit of rewarding failure not success, we need to take a little from Richard Branson, success is rewarded failure is not an option.

  3. Scott Taylor-Barr 2nd January 2013 at 3:36 pm

    I find it quite sad that something as special as an Honour has become part of the “perks” package for some Public Sector jobs – regardless of your performance. It’s wrong and undermines all the hard work of those who are honoured based on their contribution, not just their job title.

  4. A Knighthood for being a Bagpuss and sleeping whilst the fat cat bankers got rich and laundered and screwed the markets (LIBOR) through London
    I think NOT

  5. I think including details of how to make a complaint and to see if we can get this overturned would be most useful at this point.
    Lots of people are grumbling, but there is not enough grumbling to the decision makers.

  6. “Rewarding failure” anyone???

  7. Well I suppose it’s the final confirmation that the lunatics are now running the asylum

  8. Does Hector deserve a K?

    I take it that’s some sort of joke?

    As has been postulated elsewhere, it may have been part of the deal when he stepped down from FSA, and then backed down on any ambition or claim to go to the BoE.

    i.e. – His credibility at the FSA was shot and he would be an embarassment as a BoE Governer, so to buy him off, he gets his K which, as he’s never been shy of making clear, was one of his ambitions.

    I’m sure he’ll find his Barclays package a further consolation. Good luck to both parties, they’re probably well suited.

  9. Knighted, no. Nutted, yes.

  10. If it is true that David Cameron put forward Mr Sants for a knigthood then he is rewarding failure ! A friend of mine who is a solicitor/QC watched Mr Sants some years ago on the Andrew Marr show and stated he said nothing throughout the entire programme to show he has the capability to head the FSA! He was obviously right. 5 out of 6 members of my close family voted for the conservatives at the last election and if this is an example of the behaviour of the people who are running our country then I despair for our future.

  11. Clearly the big difference between the ex-Sir Fred and the new Sir Hector is in the scale of the problems that took place under their watches. Through no fault of his own, Fred took ultimate responsibility for only one bank’s activities while Hector watched over an entire sector while it took advantage of a regulatory system which had teeth but never opened its mouth.
    No, Hector does not deserve a knighthood and its award to him simply destroys the value of this honour. The system is frequently criticised because it so often rewards senior civil servants for simply doing their jobs, but to reward an individual for overseeing such an abject failure is quite simply astonishing.
    The Queen was recently heard to question the role of the FSA in the banking crisis so for the Prime Minister to put her in the position of having to ‘dub’ Hector does seem to be rather more anti-Royalist than might be expected from him.
    The FSA is staffed and run by human beings and thus we must expect mistakes to be made and we should forgive those that make them – as in any other field of human endeavour – but to reward such blatant incompetence is taking forgiveness a tad too far.

  12. I think he should be given a powder!

  13. Was that meant to be a serious question ? Obviously the answer is a big ”NO” …

  14. No doubt the K’ hood was for being persuaded to “remain in the job”, yet more wasted public money!!

  15. Don’t just bitch about it sign this petition and get everyone you know too as well…

    http://www.avaaz.org/en/petition/Withdraw_Hector_Sants_Nomination_for_Knighthood_Reform_The_System/?launch

  16. Sadly in the UK today we believe in rewarding failures. From the top down we need to change and then maybe once again we can take our seat at the top table!

  17. A total “disgrace” makes a nonsense of the giving of this privilege.

  18. Re-locate the award ceremony to the Tower.

  19. A resounding “NO”
    “The Government website states: “The honours system recognises people who have made great achievements in public life and people who’ve committed themselves to serving Britain. They will usually have made life better for other people or been outstanding at what they do.”
    So what has Sants done to achieve any of the above??
    Its a simple case of “friends in high places” & makes a complete mockery or the whole awards system.
    I was fortunate to attend an awards ceremony to watch my father receive his MBE from the Queen, given for decades of charity work & service to his local community. It struck me at the time that, whilst most of the other recipients were similar hard working & selfless individuals, a significant minority were there to receive “top-honours” – knighthoods, CBE’s etc. for doing their own, well-paid jobs, albeit probably very successfully (though the latter part is not something that Sants achieved)
    A total & utter disgrace

  20. I’ve written and objected to the Prime Minister and my MP

  21. A knighthood is something you award people like Jimmy Savile with for example…

  22. If the stripping of honours is an indication that such awards have to be earned and integrity maintained, then I cannot see any basis for Sants’ knighthood.

    During his tenure, the FSA has lost any shred of decency that it may have had, and has become a political and self-serving animal.

    Sants has shown himself to be the human embodiment of all that is wrong with the system and for him to be awarded such an ‘honour’ at the same time that Arch cru investors and advisers are being stabbed in the back is a complete disgrace.

  23. Never mind knighted it should be Harakiri!

  24. Why not?

    In a day and age when it would appear that all you need to do is turn up for work for a few years then Hector fits the bill in this entirely discredited and therefore ultimately valueless honours system.

    Of course by any qualitative measure Hector Sants isn’t worth any sort of honour, but then neither was he worth his bonuses.

    Come to think of it he wasn’t worth his basic salary but then that is applying a system of judgement that requires someone to be competent in their position.

    Hector Sants demonstrated beyond any reasonable doubt that he lacked the capability to carry out his duties to a level that was satisfactory for any of the skill sets required.

    If it was Cameron who simply followed the informal ruoles for the position then all he has succeeded in doing is underlining the entirely pointless and dishonourable system we operate in this country.

    The whole thing has becoome meaningless and is effectively an insult to thos few who truly do deserve the recognition for selflessly giving of themselves in making contributions to peoples’ lives.

    Old boys’ club alive and well.

    Moral fibre and “Honour” disappearing before our very eyes.

    Ian Coley
    Partner

  25. I can only now assume that a knighthood ranks along side Blue Peter badges. Looks like Hector can look forward to free entry and queue jumping privileges at York Minster. Lucky b****r.

  26. This is clearly a rhetorical question as everyone seems to know the answer (except those that count!). Maybe they do as well, but are too gutless to stop it happening. As Simon Webster says: “Sign the petition”.

  27. I fail to understand how this award was even considered. When you look at the condition of Financial Services now that the RDR has been delivered, the return of the hangmans noose would be more appropriate.
    Shame on the PM if he recommended this Honour. In addition I believe this brings the honours system into disrepute.

  28. Personally, I’m all in favour of Mr Sants being connected with a sword – I just think either it should be brought down hard and fast – or he should fall on it. It is a complete disgrace and demeans the honour for those who really deserve it.

  29. Then join the campaign via the petition at

    http://www.avaaz.org/en/petition/Withdraw_Hector_Sants_Nomination_for_Knighthood_Reform_The_System/?cysgPdb

    to get this stopped!! already in about 24 hours has over 100 signatures, lets get this moving

  30. Paul Standerwick 2nd January 2013 at 4:32 pm

    Of course there should not be automatic awards, regardless of performance, this is a disgrace.
    Typical; unaccountable, public sector mentality.

  31. I agree with Ian Coley above when he says that it is effectively an insult to those few who truly do deserve the recognition for selflessly giving of themselves in making contributions to peoples’ lives.

    That is what is really upsetting for everyday people.

    The honours system is a anachronism from a bygone age and IMHO is only retained in its current form so that Prime Ministers still have the power of patronage.

    Nowhere near a good enough reason to retain it for a minute longer.

  32. Of course he should be rewarded for failure, he’s in ‘good’ company. The award has long been fatally undermined by awards like this; what is sad is that it demeans those who have genuinely deserved to be knighted.

  33. I honestly thought Harry Hill had blagged the trade press to swallow this story.
    I think we should be given the precise decision pathway and the names who PROPOSED and SIGNED OFF this calamny.
    My gob is totally smacked

  34. Annoyed from Andover 2nd January 2013 at 4:40 pm

    I guess it is no surprise that all respondents so far have answered to the effect that the award is ill deserved.

    I have commented previously that Hector Sants should have been sacked, if not for his failures in overseeing the supervision of the Banks; defintely for issuing an emal to all FSA staff advising them to vote Labour in the last General Election in order to try and save their jobs.

    He manipulated the RDR, forcing a review when the details had already been agreed and effectively gave the industry legislation that did not match the aims of the RDR when it was started.

    He will not be remembered positively and I have signed the petition previously referred to. I doubt it will do much good, but worth wasting a few moments.

    http://www.avaaz.org/en/petition/Withdraw_Hector_Sants_Nomination_for_Knighthood_Reform_The_System/?wwamPdb

    I have also shared this with my Twitter followers and Facebook friends. Wouldn;t it be great if thousands signed this?

  35. He should be indicted, not knighted. The highlighted areas of FSA incompetence such as the banking crisis, PPI et al are merely the tip of the iceberg. He ran the FSA with a breathtaking mix of arrogance and incompetence rarely equalled in UK history (and that is up against some pretty stiff competition). He quelled dissent with threats against anyone who opposed his views, and leaves a legacy of a market that works in favour of non advised sales companies and against decent, honest IFAs who will now struggle to make a living in a post RDR apocalypse.

  36. I cannot support automatic knighthoods for public servants and the award to Sants is just another nail in the awards coffin and outrageously incredible. He showed scant regard to the IFA community when all we want is for our clients to be happy and for us to earn a living helping them achieve it.
    Its even worse though that Sants has gone to a bank – It smells rather bad!!

  37. No. But does our opinion matter? Will it make any difference?

    When it boils down to it you can’t have an honours system that is open to public opinion, otherwise there will always be someone to object about someone.

    EG Should the very rich who claim the tax relief after giving money to charity, which in effects costs them little, be awarded a gong just for that alone? I think not, but someone somewhere might think otherwise

  38. Is this about the FSA or Barclays..?

  39. FSA principled approach –Commission causing innapropriate advice its a joke.Rewarding failure with such a high honour is unacceptable.He should not have been proposed nor should he have had the galll to accept it.

  40. A resounding NO!!!!

    Petition signed!

  41. I can think of a better use of the ceremonial sword

  42. RegulatorSaurusRex 2nd January 2013 at 5:53 pm

    You must first ask yourselves if you could have coped with what he had to deal with 24/7.

    I certainly couldn’t and I would wager that many people would have lost their marbles.

    Move on, nothing interesting to talk about here.

  43. Utterly astonishing. There is literally no sense of shame in the Ivory Towers. Petition signed.

  44. No!
    And why did Barclays get such a small Fine compared to other comparable banks??

  45. Ian Fraser & co have opened a Facebook page to publically try & stop Sants receiving his Knighthood.

    Not sure if this has been mentioned but here is the link

    http://www.facebook.com/groups/393315707421224/394986363920825/?ref=notif&notif_t=group_activity

    Get busy on it & share as much as possible.

    This is an absolute disgrace in my opintion & you have to wonder if this reward is for what he didn’t do whilst holding the position of head of the FSA!

    He’s now in prime postion to fill the advice gap with Barlays as much as possible – left by his engineered cull of IFAs over his tenure.

    Imagine all the ones who’ve had to de-authorise because of this RDR debacle?!!!

  46. What a mild article. Sants is either lazy, blind, stupid or part of a conspiracy. Having looked at the selection criteria for a ‘K’ none of these are on the list. The fact that he was offered and accepted it is testament to his sense of entitlement. This discredits all those who have been honoured properly.

  47. if you can cast your memory’s back to when hectors pants anounced he was leaving the FSA, I blogged that he would end up with a knighthood, and i think just about everyone said it was a non starter, A state execution might be more appropriate lets hope Liz’s hand slips when she gets near him with the sword,

  48. “Osborne persuaded him to stay to oversee the transition to a new regulatory framework.”

    Did he really? If he did, then Sants reneged on the deal because he jumped ship six months prior to Red Button Day. Quite why his voluntary departure warranted six months of fully paid gardening leave (at our expense) is also highly questionable, both legally and morally.

    You’d think he might, at the very least, had the simple decency to have stayed on until 31st March 2013 when the voracious, self-serving monster over which he presided is finally given the richly deserved boot.

  49. Awww come on ! Of course he deserves to be knighted, just look at his achievements listed below.

    What were they again?

  50. Does Hector Sants deserve to be knighted? Absolutely not and stangeringly unbelievable that he has received one. Makes you wonder who on earth makes these crazy decisions.

  51. Whatb was his response to the unfolding financial crisis? Something like “we were focussing on something else at the time” Imagine an airline pilot using such an excuse if by not focussing he loses the aircraft and many of its passengers. He would have been dismissed as the the then Mr H Saints should have been. Accountability and responsibility go together; so apart from the lack of response to the financial crisis, what has this man achieved?

    Had I been a betting man, I would have looked for very lomg odds against such a muddled perfformance being rewarded with a knighthood.

    Finally, how can quitting before the task in hand has been completed successfully be seen as “a sense of duty” ? A fit of pique is more likely.

  52. No! Totally undeserved and a slap in the face for decency. This inept man has no sense of decency by accepting a Knighthood. Hopefully when ‘history’ is written about his tenure in the FSA in a few years he will be publicly vilified as he deserves and humiliated.

  53. The Honours system awards rank and privelages to the few who deserve.

    Hector ran an organisation as unaccountable as MI5, that plurally failed in all objectives.

    Why not give him a corrupt gong too?

    A corrupt elite ruling the mass ignorant.

  54. Disgraceful!! He’s far worse than Fred Goodwin.

  55. Under his stewardship the FSA has failed to protect the public against mis-selling, provider failure, the almost total collapse of the UK banking sector and now the demise of advice provision of financial advice in the UK. The fact that he held on to his job is amazing and the tough he should be any form of positive recognition outrageous.

  56. Moore to the point, I have not yet spotted anyone in favour on any of the bloggs or forums as yet, anyone else?

  57. And which corrupt fool put his name forward? They should be fearful too.

  58. I am sure the answer lies in a brown envelope

  59. I have been a Tory voter all my life.

    Unfortunately I now believe David Cameron & George Osborne no longer have what it takes to run the country, they are a pair of wets, and it is time for new Leadership.

    What a mess this RDR is!

  60. Over a thousand people have now signed the AVAAZ petition opposing this knighthood.

    I believe that this is unprecedented and should be brought to the attention of the national press. There have been campaigns to strip people of their knighthoods, but I have never been aware of such opposition to an honour before it is formally awarded.

    I am not a spiteful or vengeful person but there is clearly something rotten about this whole situation.

  61. Was John Tiner knighted?

    Ask yourselves why not?

  62. An utter disgrace when the FSA stopped the pensions of thousands at the wipe of a pen/comment. they walk away with millions and titles when we have to use our pension pots to dig ourselves out of a hole of their making!
    Whats fair about that??

  63. would you knight the captin of the titanic, the fsa proved that they can go after the little guy but let the banks plung us into depression, they over saw the rise of wasteful regulation which the customer has to pay for, reduced choice and all we have to show for it is a name change and a new type of ” regulation” ” FCA I have been in this business for 26 years and nothing will improve the customers lot until investment products do what they say on the tin and the fund managers / companies put customers first.

  64. Absolutely NOT! It just underlines that these ‘honours’ are worth nothing any more.

  65. If he had seen out the big plan and it had been judged to be a success of some form…..yes he would deserve it.

    If he had seen it out and it fell flat on it’s face obviously not.

    Should it have been given at this time before there is any indication of how things will work in reality….certainly not.

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