Wheatley’s vital optimism risks not anticipating the Flashmans

AFTER decades of Flashman types thriving on trading floors, we now appear to want Captain Mainwarings to restore trust in the banking system.

Martin Wheatley, who launched his review into Libor on Friday, will be one of those with most power to do so as the head of the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). Comparisons with the pomposity of Mainwaring do him a disservice, but he’s certainly far from Flashman.

Wheatley says he is an “optimist” – and perhaps optimism is needed in the face of so much cynicism. Yet it has its perils. For one, you may not spot misbehaviour as quickly.

Plans to institute a “fit and proper” test for individuals who submit data for Libor from banks are admirable but may ultimately just be another box to tick.

But Wheatley’s suggestions to the government are salient and, to judge from the reception on Friday, are likely to be swiftly adopted.

Yet there is a slight air of locking the door after the horse has bolted. Flashmans need people around who can anticipate what they will do next, rather than just cleaning up the seduced wenches and looted treasure left in their wake.

Catherine Boyle is a staff writer for CNBC. Twitter: @cboylecnbc