One of the UK’s most senior accountants will serve as the first non-executive chairman of the Financial Conduct Authority, the UK’s new investor protection and markets regulator.
John Griffith-Jones, KPMG’s UK chairman, will join the board of the Financial Services Authority in September before heading the board of the FCA when it spins out as an independent agency next year.
Mr Griffith-Jones, who retires from KPMG in August, is expected to work with Martin Wheatley, the chief executive designate, to launch the new authority and will chair its supervisory board.
Under the financial services reform bill now moving through parliament, the FCA will be in charge of protecting investors, regulating markets and supervising more than 25,000 brokers, investment managers and independent financial advisers.
Mr Wheatley and Treasury officials have already signalled that the FCA will be a much more aggressive regulator with a remit to get involved with product design and seek to protect investors from making irrational decisions.
Some of Mr Wheatley’s early moves – including an announcement that regulators plan to limit sales of unregulated collective investment schemes to retail customers – have raised hackles in the City.
A chartered accountant and City grandee, Mr Griffith-Jones has worked at KPMG since 1975 and played a key role in steering the firm through the regulatory changes that were imposed in the early 2000s after the collapse of Enron and WorldCom.
Mr Griffith-Jones said in a statement: “I know how important it is that consumers, investors and businesses have trust in the integrity of the UK’s financial services industry and markets. I see the future role of the Financial Conduct Authority as key to rebuilding that trust, in particular through its increased focus on consumer protection and choice.”
His experience of working on the industry side will probably reassure those who fear an empowered FCA will hamper innovation and stifle growth in the sector. The FCA board, to include a majority of non-executive directors, will supervise the issuance of new regulations and oversee decisions by the enforcement division.
Mark Hoban, financial secretary to the Treasury, said Mr Griffith-Jones “understands the challenges facing the financial services sector and this, together with his experience in both chairman and CEO roles, will be very valuable as we move towards the creation of the FCA”. Lord Turner, the FSA’s executive chairman, will step down when the authority is disbanded next year and its responsibilities divided between the FCA and the Prudential Regulation Authority, a new arm of the Bank of England.
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