Sants: ‘I never wanted to be FSA chief’

FSA chief executive and future chief executive of the Prudential Regulation Authority Hector Sants has revealed he had no interest in leading the regulator when he joined, and is in only in the role because he was persuaded to apply.

Sants was quizzed last night by the Treasury select committee over the regulator’s supervision of Royal Bank of Scotland in the run-up to the bank’s near collapse. The Government now holds an 82 per cent stake in the bank.

In response to a question from TSC chairman Andrew Tyrie about when Sants knew he was going to take over from John Tiner as FSA chief executive, Sants replied it was not a job he “particularly wanted to take on”.

He said: “The original arrangement with John Tiner was that I would do three years as one of three managing directors. He told me when I joined he would be doing a longer period than in the event he turned out to do and I made it very clear I had no interest in staying for that long a period to put myself forward for the chief executive post.

“I did not join the FSA with the intention of  being the chief executive. I did not expect John Tiner to leave, I was not originally intending to apply for the job, I was persuaded to do so.”

TSC member and Labour and Co-operative MP for Edmonton Andy Love said Sants had been through “a baptism of fire”, but questioned Sants on what he has learned that better equips him to carry out his new role as chief executive of the PRA compared to when he joined the FSA.

Sants said the FSA did its utmost during the crisis against a backdrop where the regulator was not staffed adequately or structured effectively.

He added: “It is worth reminding ourselves that I was leaving, and that I was asked to stay. I decided it was the right thing to do to stay on the basis that I accepted the argument made to me that I was the best person to take forward the regulatory reform programme and leave the regulatory regime in a good shape.

“That is what I think I should be judged on. I have been given a specific task which I was persuaded to take on, that is what I am currently delivering. At the moment the reform programme is on track, I think we have learnt a lot from the experiences and we are using all that experience to make a better regime for the future which will significantly diminish the probability of these types of crises happening again.”