LONDON (Reuters) - The official responsible for supervising firms is among three senior figures who will leave Britain’s financial watchdog in an overhaul to “sharpen” its focus, it said on Monday.
The announcement comes ahead of what is expected to be a critical report on Wednesday of the Financial Conduct Authority’s (FCA) handling of an insurance industry review.
The regulator prematurely disclosed details of the review in March, sending shares in insurance companies plunging, in an incident FCA Chief Executive Martin Wheatley described as “not our finest hour”.
The watchdog said on Monday that it was making several structural changes to “meet the regulatory challenges ahead”, some 18 months after it was launched in a shake-up of financial supervision.
Supervision director Clive Adamson will leave, along with media head Zitah McMillan and Victoria Raffe, an executive committee member.
The FCA was launched in April 2013 to plug supervisory gaps highlighted by the 2007-09 financial crisis that regulators failed to see coming.
“In the 18 months since the inception of the FCA we have achieved a lot and now is the time to sharpen our focus,” Wheatley said. “The financial industry continually evolves and to regulate it effectively we must evolve too.”
The FCA will initially combine the existing authorizations and supervision divisions and they will be redivided from January to allow for a clearer distinction between the watchdog’s approach to regulating big and smaller firms.
Tracey McDermott, current head of enforcement, will manage the transition and then lead one of the two divisions from April.
It marks the end of her stint as head of the watchdog’s enforcement arm since April 2011, having led the FCA’s landmark fines against banks for attempted rigging of benchmark interest rates and currency markets.
Georgina Philippou will be acting head of enforcement from January.
A new strategy and competition division will be set up, led by Christopher Woolard, while Richard Sutcliffe will be the acting director of a new risk division.
David Lawton will head a new markets policy and international division, focusing on European rulemaking. Marc Teasdale will be acting head of a market oversight unit that includes listings and market monitoring.
The changes helps the watchdog clear the decks ahead of Wednesday’s report into its handling of the insurance market review.
The FCA appointed an independent lawyer in April to probe how it released news of the planned review into whether people locked into 30 million pension and other savings plans sold by insurers are treated fairly compared with new clients.
Some of the review’s details were published in a newspaper in March, citing comments from Adamson. Insurance bosses were angered as they waited several hours for the regulator to outline its full intentions.
Editing by Matt Scuffham and Pravin Char