Feb 21 – Bailey’s grand defence

Why did I watch Andrew Bailey appear before the Treasury Select Committee?  Because he was being interviewed about his part in the London Capital & Finance failure and the report by Dame Elisabeth Gloster that apportioned blame on him for the failure of the FCA to use its authorisation and supervisory powers appropriately.

This has led to the FSCS paying out millions in compensation that, having breached two class limits, respectable mortgage and protection firms are having to pay for.

As a chess player caught in the moment of hearing the words “Check”; the former Head of the FCA and now Governor of the Bank of England produced a stunning new defence worthy of the Grand Master he is.  He delivered at the Treasury Select Committee the explanation that it was crucial that we all understood that as Chief Executive he was of course responsible for what happened, but not culpable.

To give context the statement in the FCA Annual Report of 2015/16 from the chair, John Griffith-Jones should be recalled that, “I was pleased that Andrew Bailey, a longstanding member of our Board, was appointed as Chief Executive from 1 July 2016.  Andrew gives us the continuity of a Chief Executive who understands our organisation, our statutory objectives and the diversity of the sectors we regulate.”  The fact that he had been on the Board since April 2013 meant that perhaps he should have known more about the issues he recalled on taking the job.  His surprise that the call centre was outsourced, should not have been.

This of course now provides an excellent new approach for all those captured under the Senior Managers Regime to similarly shrug off their responsibilities with the same cutely orchestrated device.  It is great when those on the side of “right” use language to expunge their failure to provide their organisation with the appropriate direction, but if it has led to loss then being responsible and apologising for their loss is enough.  Not an apology for the failure to do the job they were being paid by good firms to do.  Indeed, at points despite the FCA accepting all of the findings and recommendations, the Governor still appeared to dispute aspects of the report.

So with one bound, he was free.  Out of “Check”, able to carry on, with his interview littered with statements about his inability to comment on the FCA as he left over a year ago, or that he was sure Nikhil Rathi could fill in on that gap.

What was clear is that he knew the FCA was not up to standard, there were programmes to change how it operated, but in his view unfortunately it just did not happen quickly enough.  He was responsible but not culpable.  That is a line I hope I never have to even think about using.

Robert Sinclair
Chief Executive, AMI