The hastily arranged FSA statement this morning, without any indication of the process for recruiting a successor, shows the dilemmas facing the regulator.
Sants’ well publicised run-ins with the Tories over the future shape of financial regulation could well be the main motive for the decision. Late last year in was reported that the Tories were eyeing up Sants for a senior role at the Bank of England if they win the election, despite their public spat.
Perhaps a better paid more glamorous role in the private sector was more appealing to Sants after six years at the unloved regulator?
Fighting it out for a decent role under the Tories brave new world of regulation, or dealing with the huge headaches which could accompany a hung Parliament, may not have sounded too attractive to a an individual who can command a huge salary by returning to the City.
Without knowing the result of the general election it will be very hard for the FSA to put any sort of succession planning in place. Who wants a job that may not exist in a few months? The skill sets needed for his replacement will be very different depending on the future direction of the regulator.
While there have been plenty of comments on our website this morning celebrating the end of Sants’ reign, and indeed the expected demise of the FSA if the Tories are elected, anyone thinking this will signal a lightening of the regulatory burden for IFAs could be in for a shock.
The Tories have signalled that their slightly soviet sounding Consumer Protection Agency will be out to prove itself while a hung Parliament could see the adviser-unfriendly hand of the Treasury aim for greater influence. Also, the uncertain influence of Europe is only going to get stronger. Sants was never the driving force behind the RDR and it is unlikely to be derailed just because of his departure.
It was probably only a matter for time before Sants jumped ship. So, what about his legacy? We can but hope the future governors of financial regulation, whoever they may be, have taken careful note of the many failings of oversight in the retail space in recent years and aim not to repeat them.