The Financial Conduct Authority has appointed two new chief enforcers today as it prepares to clampdown on financial crime and usher in contentious new consumer rules this year.
FCA veteran Therese Chambers and National Crime Agency executive Steve Smart have been appointed to jointly head up its enforcement and market oversight division as it ramps up efforts to become a “more assertive” regulator, the FCA said.
The pair will be responsible for ”reducing the growth in financial crime, ensuring consumer outcomes meet the higher standards of the new Consumer Duty [and] stepping in where firms restrict competition”, the regulator said in a statement.
“We are committed to acting faster and more effectively, putting the power of technology, data and intelligence at the heart of our enforcement operations,” FCA chief executive Nikhil Rathi added. “Therese and Steve will be a powerful combination, bringing a complementary skillset, which will enable us to do just that.”
Chambers has worked at the watchdog for over 20 years, spending the majority of her time in the enforcement division. Smart currently serves as director of intelligence at the NCA, overseeing 2000 staff.
Chambers and Smart’s appointment comes ahead of a major shake-up to City rules this summer, with firms required to ramp up their protection of consumers under the new ‘Consumer Duty’. The FCA has fired a volley of warning shots at firms in recent months for lagging behind the required pace of reform.
But the move has proved controversial in City circles, with city Minister Andrew Griffith reportedly pushing back against the changes for tangling firms up in unnecessary red tape.
Matthew Nunan, former FCA wholesale enforcement chief, said the appointments were a smart move for the regulator.
“Therese Chambers is a fantastic appointment – very well regarded within the FCA and externally, with a huge amount of experience and expertise both as a lawyer and as a regulator,” said Nunan, who is now a partner at law firm Gibson Dunn.
“The appointment of Steve Smart is really interesting, both in the fact that the job of Executive Director of Enforcement and Markets Oversight is now the work of two people, and in the appointment of someone who brings very specific criminal and intelligence experience to the role, something that the FCA has not had in place before,” Nunan added.
“This might indicate a new direction of travel or at least a new emphasis for the Enforcement and Markets Oversight departments,” he said.