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Out with the old, in with the banker

Praise, speculation and conspiracy theories kicked off last week following the announcement that Jon Pain will take over as managing director of retail markets at the FSA.

Pain, who was most recently managing director at Lloyd TSB-owned Cheltenham & Gloucester, has a strong banking background having worked for Lloyds since 1973.

He will take on overall responsibility for regulating firms or groups whose business is predominantly with retail consumers.

This includes the regulation of high street banks, building societies, insurance companies, mortgage lenders, retail financial services intermediaries and approximately 17,000 smaller firms engaged in mortgage advice, insurance broking and investment advice.

Some say the FSA needed an MD with outstanding banking experience after Clive Briault left the post following the Northern Rock crisis. Others fear the regulator is planning to shift the direction of the RDR more in the banks’ favour.

Association of Independent Financial Advisers director general Chris Cummings says the IFA community will be looking for Pain to “demonstrate his affinity with the adviser community given his strong background in banking”.

While Cicero director Iain Anderson says: “Post-Northern Rock there’s no doubt the FSA was looking at individuals at a high level who have a considerable banking track record and Pain fits that bill. His banking experience will stand him in good stead for the role.”

FSA chief executive Hector Sants says: “With more than three decades experience working in retail banking, insurance and the mortgage sector, as well as his work with trade bodies, Jon will play a key role in driving the FSA’s regulatory and consumer-facing objectives for the retail markets sector.”

David Kenmir, who has been acting as managing director of retail markets since April, will return to his role as chief operating officer following Pain’s appointment.

However, Kenmir has announced he will step down early next year to pursue other career opportunities after 20 years as a regulator.

Highclere Financial Services partner Alan Lakey praised Kenmir for his handling of the PI crisis and his willingness to meet with groups such as the IFA Defence Union, but says he knows little else about his time at the FSA.

He says: “The problem with many of the regulators is that we don’t know what they do behind closed doors. They must be achieving targets because they are paid performance bonuses, but what those targets are we as an industry have no idea.”

The FSA says it will begin the search for Kenmir’s successor shortly.

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