Chairman of UK markets watchdog to step down early

Financial Conduct Authority's Charles Randell will leave next spring, a year short of his five-year term

The chairman of Britain's Financial Conduct Authority said on Friday he would step down early from his role after helping the watchdog navigate Brexit and the Covid-19 pandemic.

Charles Randell, who took on the role in April 2018 and was also the chairman of the Payment Systems Regulator, said he would leave both roles next spring, a year short of his five-year term.

“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,” Mr Randell said.

He said the role had been “a great privilege”, with the FCA standing 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”.

London retained its position as the most attractive European Initial Public Offering venue by funds raised in the third quarter, according to EY, despite Britain’s exit from the EU, continuing momentum seen in the previous two quarters and reaching new highs.

Fourteen IPOs raised £2.9 billion ($3.97bn) on the main market in the third quarter and 19 IPOs raised £1.1bn on the Alternative Investment Market, taking the total funds raised by companies floating on the London Stock Exchange in the first nine months of the year to £13.4bn, far outstripping total IPO proceeds of £9.3bn in 2020.

Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak thanked Mr Randell for his work on Friday, both as chairman of the FCA and the PSR “during this important period”.

“Both organisations undertake a vital role in ensuring that the UK financial markets work well, protecting the interests of consumers, promoting effective competition, and enhancing the integrity of the UK financial system,” Mr Sunak said.

Nikhil Rathi, the former finance ministry official who became chief executive of the FCA last October, is pushing through an internal shake-up following heavy criticism over the watchdog's handling of collapsed investment firm London Capital & Finance.

The finance ministry said it would start the process of recruiting a replacement.

On Friday, the contactless card payment limit in the UK was increased from £45 to £100, although many retailers' terminals will need to be updated, so the option will not be available everywhere immediately.

The limit was increased to £45 in April 2020, early on in the coronavirus pandemic, when some shops restricted people's ability to pay with cash.

Updated: October 15th 2021, 12:36 PM