Hector off to Barclays- Grrrrr

 

For many advisers out there this news has been met with a mixture of anger and incredulity.

 

The garden leave is over and an announcement made this week states that he will be joining Barclays and will be “directly accountable” for the compliance performance of the bank and will be “responsible” for Barclays’s relationship with governments and regulators around the world.

 

Now many will find the words “accountable” and “responsible” were one’s that did form part of the Canary Wharf vocabulary. Indeed if they did, Lord Turner told the TSC that it would be seen as a disincentive to work at the FSA.

 

Barclays Chief Executive Antony Jenkins is quoted as saying: “having most recently led one of the world’s pre-eminent regulatory authorities, I can think of no more suitably qualified person than Hector Sants to take on these challenges.

 

I am not sure how tongue in cheek this quote is? For a bank that has recently been “cashiered” by the FSA and the TSC, the latter also having made clear on more than one occasion that the FSA had failed in so many ways, to suggest that the FSA was a “pre-eminent” regulator or that they could find a “no more suitably qualified person” is hardly appropriate.  

 

Now I must place on record that Mr. Sants has every right to seek gainful employment if the FSA proves not to his liking any more, but, such a specially created role is not something that happens overnight and would demonstrate that Mr. Sant’s mind has not perhaps been as fully on the job as it should be for some time or that he wanted some clear blue water placed between the job change.

 

The cynics out there were correct in thinking that it was only a matter of time before a big job would be lined up after the spell of highly paid garden leave with a bank or other financial institution.

 

But, with so many high profile FSA ‘ex-ecutives’ having already pioneered this route is there something very rotten about such journey?

 

After all we should note that Government ministers are prohibited from working with companies their department may have had a relationship with for two years.

 

Former cabinet minister Geoff Hoon had restrictions put on his business activities by the body set up to prevent politicians misusing their influence.

 

The restrictions meant Mr. Hoon could not draw on any privileged information he was given during his time as a minister for the next two years.

 

The Advisory Committee on Business Appointments (Acoba), which looks at the position of all ministers who take up jobs after leaving Parliament states that:

 

“Under the Ministerial Code former Ministers who want to take up any appointments or employment for two years after leaving office are required to seek advice from the Advisory Committee, and must abide by that advice. Former Ministers are asked to complete an application form”.

 

This protocol should apply to ALL those in high profile regulatory positions too and this should be a high priority for HM Treasury to put in place rules to stop such “bed hopping” that has the potential for a commercial organisation to benefit from the possibly highly sensitive knowledge and intelligence that Mr. Sants has no doubt been privy to.

 

On the plus side, he is accountable and responsible to someone for something at long last.

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