On the frontline: new FSA chief executive John Tiner

Identified by Accountancy Age in January as the most influential figure in accountancy, Tiner replaces Sir Howard Davies, who is moving to the London School of Economics in September, and has long been touted as the CEO in waiting.

However, the new post will not be a walkover for Tiner. He takes over at a time when the FSA is facing some of the biggest challenges since it was created in 1997. Tiner will need to be decisive and, for want of a better phrase, pretty hard, when it comes to dealing with the key personalities in the City institutions that his organisation regulates.

Tiner is widely seen as having the characteristic that was so admired in his predecessor – a foot in both camps. Not only does he have serious experience in regulation – he was once wholly immersed in the private sector.

Qualified with the ICAEW, he joined Arthur Andersen in 1976. By 1997, he was head of the firm’s worldwide financial services practice. He became a serious player after major projects in Japan, the US, Germany, Norway and the Czech Republic. But the headline grabber is perhaps Tiner’s leadership of the Bank of England review of banking supervision in 1996.

Regulation beckoned strongly and Tiner was brought into the FSA in April 2001.

Clearly a lot of faith was placed in him because he was given the job of reviewing the regulation of the insurance industry. This is a role that at first glance seems a little dry, but when you consider the pressures placed on the industry by the recent poor performance of the equity markets, you see that Tiner had quite a job on his hands.

That review also had to consider the fact that UK citizens are not saving nearly enough money for retirement. This home truth put Tiner in the firing line once his report appeared, but he is felt to have dealt with the press attention with some accomplishment.

Concerns about retirement savings are unlikely to go away, while the insurance industry is sure to go on claiming that it is over regulated and gradually being forced into providing products that ordinary people cannot afford.

This is just a couple of the tests set to come Tiner’s way. On top of those, he’ll have to deal with growing concerns about money laundering, another area of the FSA’s work.

The Home Office estimates laundering to be worth £18bn a year in the UK and it will be Tiner’s job to make sure the money laundering rules are being enforced.

And that’s where being hard comes in. Howard Davies was always viewed by the City as being fair but firm. Tiner will need to achieve the same reputation if he is to earn the respect of his bosses at the Treasury and the people subject to his regulation.


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