Ex-FCA advice boss takes role with Aegon

Linda Woodall 700 x 450Former FCA advice director Linda Woodall has joined Aegon’s independent governance committee.

Woodall stepped down from her role at the FCA in December last year. She was previously director of mortgages and consumer lending at the regulator.

Woodall replaces Institute of Customer Service chief executive Jo Causon who served on the committee as an independent member since it was created in 2015.

Aegon IGC chair Ian Pittaway says: “Linda will bring fresh insights and challenges to our IGC and will make sure we continue to focus on broader regulatory developments in defining ‘value for money’.”

Woodall adds: “We’re reaching an interesting juncture as rising pension contributions create a huge test for auto-enrolment and pension freedoms change peoples’ attitudes towards retirement income.

“IGCs need to continue to challenge and ensure that members receive good value for money and good outcomes from their workplace pensions.”

It is understood Woodall has also pick up a role on the board of compliance consultancy Huntswood.

Woodall joins a number of former senior FCA staff who have picked up director roles within the industry soon after they left the industry.

Former chief executive Martin Wheatley became an adviser for a Hong-Kong based hedge fund, his successor Tracey McDermott joined Standard Chartered, and pensions director Nick Poyntz-Wright took a non-executive role at closed-book provider Phoenix.

A February report by pressure group ShareAction criticised independent governance committees and challenged them to do better.

The report said independent governance committees at big-name pension providers are failing to safeguard the interests of savers and that the FCA must take action.

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Comments

There are 15 comments at the moment, we would love to hear your opinion too.

  1. Rory Percival 9th May 2018 at 9:39 am

    Good hire by Aegon. Linda was universally liked an admired at the FCA for her down to earth, plain-speaking, practical and pragmatic approach. Just thought I’d get that in before the gravy train commenters!

  2. Patrick Schan 9th May 2018 at 9:41 am

    Here we go. Yet another ex regulator taking up an industry job far to early after leaving her post. This just looks so bad and smacks of the possibility of a conflict of interest. I’m not saying there is, of course, but there is always that suspicion and you don’t have to think very hard to come up with some very worrying examples in the recent past.
    If the regulator isn’t seen to be beyond reproach how can they expect anything else from those they are supposed to regulate?

    • Philip Castle 9th May 2018 at 10:14 am

      I would say bearing in mind it is one of a panel i.e. an “independent governance committee”, this may be good or bad, depending upon how balanced the committee is as far as skills and backgrounds of the individuals are concerned.
      Henry Tapper via PensionPlaypen does an annual review of each IGC report as they are produced and become public and I woudl reccomend reading what he writes there. His analysis of SJP’s would be especially of interest to many readers I suspect.

    • What is “far too early”? It is pretty much six months since she left the FCA, which is generally about as much as you can get away with enforcing as a covenant on an employee.

      There is a fine line between identifying and preventing potential conflicts of interests, and restricting the rights of individuals to earn a living.

      The industry outside of the regulator is a big place. I’m not sure where else ex-employees of the FCA are supposed to work?

      • Patrick Schan 9th May 2018 at 11:54 am

        Presumably, Mick, you don’t think it does look like there might have been a conflict of interest possibility somewhere along the line with appointments from a regulator to a financial services company. Or with the Sants move to Barclays after that bank’s issues, which went ‘undiscovered’ for a long period, when Sants happened to be at the FSA (just as an example). What I am saying is that there should be seen to be no possibility of a conflict of interest.
        Also, if Linda Woodall is not up to any job outside of financial services that wouldn’t be saying a lot for her abilities.
        However, I suppose we shouldn’t expect anything better in the UK, where conflicts of interest are universally ignored by politicians all the time.
        As far as employee laws go they need an overhall in these types of situations.

        • So any senior FCA employee should be barred from working in financial services for an indeterminate period of time?

          Leaving Woodall to one side, if an individual’s expertise is in financial services it would be unreasonable to expect them to earn a living in another industry.

          If a potential conflict of interest exists, it needs to be either managed by those involved, or prevented from occurring by law and regulation. A certain few restricted roles may require the latter, but they may be very difficult to enforce when considering the rights of individuals and employers.

          • Patrick Schan 10th May 2018 at 9:53 am

            “So any senior FCA employee should be barred from working in financial services for an indeterminate period of time?”
            I never said indeterminate. I did suggest it should be sorted out in law. What is the good of my suggesting a particular length of time off the cuff?
            “if an individual’s expertise is in financial services it would be unreasonable to expect them to earn a living in another industry.”
            I’ve had jobs in four different industries during my working life. The world is of people that move from one industry to another.
            “If a potential conflict of interest exists, it needs to be either managed by those involved”
            Precisely what you can’t trust them to do. That’s why there needs to be a change of law, at least in some circumstances. Nobody said it would be easy but it is certainly do-able, although those with vested interests would kick up a fuss.

  3. Admired by others at the FCA,I can only imagine the preening of the Peacocks.Absolute Gravy Train!!!

  4. I do not know Linda Woodall and have not heard of any bad decisions she has made. Can anyone out there enlighten me?

    If, as Rory has suggested, she has a common sense approach, then her staying in the industry can only be a good thing.

    • Julian Stevens 9th May 2018 at 6:04 pm

      I didn’t know much about her either, though I was somewhat incensed by her defiant, bunker-mentality proclamation that on her watch there’d be no loosening of regulation.

      What such a statement demonstrated (to me anyway) was a fundamental rejection of the idea that trying to regulate everyone, good and bad alike, according to the lowest common denominator simply doesn’t work. And it doesn’t, does it?

      What was then and still is needed is a relaxation of regulation in some areas, balanced by stepping it up in others ~ targeted and proportionate regulation. That was one of the fundamental precepts of the (original 2007) edition of the Statutory Code of Practice for Regulators and by refusing even to acknowledge its very existence, Ms. Woodhall is, in my book, as bad as all the rest of them at the FCA.

  5. OK, so I’ll declare my interest as a former employee, and can’t comment on Hector Sants or Tracey McDermott as I never worked for either of them. But I did work for Linda, who came into the Regulator from outside the Industry and brought a common sense perspective and pragmatism to her work and the teams she managed.

    As Phil Castle says, the Henry Tapper IGC reviews are insightful, and the latest Aegon report rates poorly in his view. As a holder of a small workplace pension with Aegon I’m happy to see a small slice of my charges spent on this appointment.

  6. I do believe any past or present colleagues at the FSA or FCA, will defend this woman to the hilt. And spout on about ability, character and knowledge ….

    On the flip side we hear of the FOS and its woeful inadequacies and therefor would its sister ship the FCA have the same lack of knowledge, basic skills and financial understanding, running right through its workforce ?

    Therefor, Aegon have bought what I believe to be a get out of jail free card ? an eye from behind the Iron Curtain ?

    FCA staff and certainly senior staff, (IMHO) should not have a right of passage (if you will) just because they wore the right tie and have the ability to have a conversation behind closed doors !

    And it looks like the “Phoenix” is alive and well in regulatory circles as well ?

    So what appears to be “a good hire” as Rory states …… does not make it ethically right, I doubt if she even had time enough to mow the lawn in her time in the garden ?

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