Randell Steps Down — FCA And PSR Chair To Leave In Spring 2022

October 19, 2021
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Charles Randell has asked the UK’s Chancellor of the Exchequer to begin the process of finding his successor — a year earlier than expected.

Charles Randell has asked the UK’s Chancellor of the Exchequer to begin the process of finding his successor — a year earlier than expected.

Randell, the 63-year old chairperson of the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority and Payment Systems Regulator (PSR) has announced his plans to stand down from the job.

Having previously served as an external member of the Prudential Regulation Committee and as a partner at law firm Slaughter and May, Randell leaves behind a bitter row of pay cuts at the dual regulators.

According to reports, staff at the regulatory authorities face a 10 percent pay cut, which has led to a confrontation with Unite, the trade union.

Recently, the outgoing chairperson caused a stir in the press, having used a speech to name-check Kim Kardashian for the promotion of crypto-assets on social media, with minimal information supplied about the token beyond her telling her followers that this was an advertisement.

Technological innovation has, however, been a centrepiece of his time at the financial watchdog. In the same speech, Randell talked up the opportunities for crypto-assets to improve the payments space for consumers, stating that tokens, such as stablecoins, provide “valuable competition”.

“As the FCA prepares to implement its new wholesale, retail and data strategies under an established new executive, now is the right time for a new chair to carry on the close and continuous oversight of our transformation,” he said in a press statement.

Randell took the opportunity to defend the FCA, stating that it had stood up for consumers and businesses during the pandemic. “While the markets we oversee proved resilient, laying the foundations for record capital raising to support the recovery,” he said.

It has yet to be determined when a successor will be announced, although as Malcolm Hill, managing director at Eiger Regulatory Partners, noted, they will have to manage a board that is overseeing the FCA’s set of priorities as published in July.

This includes: market reform; asset management and environmental, social, governance (ESG); consumer duty of care; supervision of appointed representatives; diversity and inclusion; as well as how to better tackle fraud.

“To this, the new chair can add managing the board’s effectiveness with regards to repairing the criticism the FCA has received surrounding the London Capital scandal and more recently, reports suggesting low staff morale at the regulator,” Hill told VIXIO.

Randell stated that being the chair of both regulatory bodies has been a great privilege, and acknowledging the work of the PSR, he said that it has been working to ensure payment systems, the lifeblood of the economy, work well for all.

The PSR has of course been a contentious issue in the payments industry during Randell’s time as chair. The New Payments Architecture’s delays have left market participants with little patience, with a feeling that the PSR failed to act quick enough.

Meanwhile, there have been concerns about structural problems at the regulator, with one former staffer complaining it has been “smothered” by the FCA. It has also been accused of failing to take on the large international card schemes.

Regardless, when commenting on Randell’s decision to stand down, Chancellor Rishi Sunak thanked him for his work, pointing to the FCA’s achievements during the pandemic, as well the regulator’s work as the UK transitioned out of its EU membership.

Discussing the PSR in particular, Sunak said: “During a period of significant change for the payments industry, the PSR has played an important role in ensuring that there is effective competition in the payment systems market and has driven forward significant changes in access to the payment systems that it regulates.”

In addition, he noted that the PSR has also played an important role in the future strategy for payment systems as set out in the recent government response to the Payments Landscape Review.

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