Lives: Married with three children in Dorking, Surrey,
Born: February 25, 1957
Age: 45 this week
School: St Peter's, Guildford.
Career to date: Accountancy school in 1976; Andersen since 1979, made head of UK financial services practice in 1993, then head of global financial services industry from 1997.1995 asked by Bank of England to investigate Leeson affair. Appointed FSA managing director by Chancellor Gordon Brown in April 2001.
Career ambition: “To help shape a high-quality financial services market in this country.”
Life ambition: “To get on a 45ft yacht as soon as possible.”
Likes: Tennis, sailing, watching sport, music from choral to Dire Straits and Status Quo
Dislikes: Trains, change and indecision
Peers say: “He is there to wield the stick with the life offices. He is not a captive old boy. It is too early to say how effective he is.”
Car: Porsche 911.
Ask anyone from the industry who deals with the FSA for their tip for Howard Davies' successor and managing director John Tiner is always on the short list.
When asked on the record would he like the job, Tiner is more reticent. He says: “I am on a three-year contract as managing director, that is fine with me.”
Tiner has come to prominence in recent weeks as he grapples with possible problems with split-capital investment trusts and thrashes out changes to insurance regulation after the Equitable Life debacle. But he got his introduction to regulation in the aftermath of one of the biggest company failures in the history of UK financial services.
Rogue trader Nick Leeson, whose record losses brought down Barings Bank, gave Tiner the opportunity to cut his teeth on regulation. Tiner was working for Arthur Andersen when he was asked by Bank of England governor Eddie George to investigate banking supervision in the aftermath of Barings' collapse. Tiner so enjoyed this first taste of a policing role that he told George he thought he would end up in regulation.
While conducting his investigation, he got to know Howard Davies, who was then deputy governor at the bank. So when headhunters approached him almost a year ago about a job at the FSA, where Davies, of course, is now chairman, the answer was yes. As managing director of the consumer, investment and insurance directorate, Tiner has responsibility for all retail activity.
At Andersen, he was managing partner of its global financial services industry, which involved living on a plane, visiting the US 23 times in a year and Japan every six weeks.
Unusually, he did not go to university but took a one-year accountancy course before joining a medium-size City accountancy firm that was taken over by Andersen, the global accountancy giant that is involved in the Enron debacle in the US.
“I slipped into Andersen through the back door, normally, it is graduate intake only.” There is evident satisfaction in his voice as he says he became a partner at 31. Tiner describes himself as “fairly driven and impatient – I like to get things done.” Referring to the Andersen motto of “Think straight, talk straight”, he says he prefers things to be out on the table.
For someone as focused on success, it comes as a surprise that he voted in Pop Idol but for eventual runner-up Gareth rather than Will. He says he was swayed by his children with whom he lives in Dorking in Surrey. Those whose livelihoods depend on it will also await the outcome with interest.
Given that he professes not to like committee culture, he manages an organisation which has in its short life reached its 125th consultation. Tiner rejects any criticism that the FSA is getting bogged down in consultations. “This is a completely new regime. The last thing we should have done is to retire to an ivory tower. We want to be very open. I recognise this places a burden on the industry but, on balance, it is right. I anticipate this burden will decrease with time.”
The airy modern open-plan offices the FSA occupied are proudly held up as emblematic of this transparency. Tiner is running late in his hectic schedule and a group of FSA staff are waiting outside for the next meeting with him.
Is there a risk of overlap between the FSA and the Government-commissioned reviews under Sandler and Pickering? “We cannot do anything about Pickering and Sandler. I understand there is a risk of overload. We just set our own stall out and we are obliged to consult by law.”
He also rejects suggestions of a turf war. “I have not observed a tussle, we are independent.” Instead, he says there is close co-operation. “In fact, I am seeing Sandler tomorrow. We are in close contact because it makes a lot of sense. We share information rather than get together to contrive a decision.”
But the most pressing issues in his in-tray are split caps and with-profits regulation.
He rejects suggestions of a collapse in the split-cap system which were raised during select committee questioning following September 11. Tiner will not be drawn on how he will set about investigating alleged collusion of the split-cap “magic circle” and, as for sanctions, he merely points out the FSA's powers to fine and prohibit or declare people not fit and proper.
As well as preparing to regulate general insurance, the FSA is undertaking a thorough overhaul of life insurance regulation under the banner of the Tiner project. He says he got fed up with having to write out its working title – Future Regulation of Insurance – and asked his team to come up with another.The Tiner project stuck.
He rejects the predictions of a bloodbath made by some analysts but would not be surprised to see considerable further consolidation in the industry, in line with general industrial trends.
The second part of the with-profits review, which he says forms a large part of his workload, is about to be launched, focusing on the role of the appointed actuary.
Asked how this marries up with the Treasury's consultation on appointed actuaries following publication of the Baird report into Equitable Life he says the Treasury is focusing on the whistleblowing aspects.
He denies that the Equitable Life debacle has been embarrassing to the regulator but admits lessons have been learned. He believes you cannot say that regulation is broke just because different problems arise.
The one area that stands above all others in the minds of IFAs is polarisation. He is firmly wedded to depolarisation and does not accept that the current proposals put forward in CP121 present an unequal playing field for independents. He does, however, throw in the sop that it is a consultation and that it is not unusual for the final rules to reflect the consultation responses heavily. But he adds: “The trade bodies tell me that opinion is divided.”
Given the radical nature and pace of many of the changes, it might come as a surprise that Tiner has no pre-set vision of the future. “I am trying to work up an idea of what it is all going to look like when it is all said and done. It is a hypothesis and should be quite interesting.”