Burnt in effigy, Martin Wheatley has the steel to shake City

The chief of the new Financial Conduct Authority smells blood

Leading Britain's chief financial watchdog might sound like a tough job, but it's nothing compared with what Martin Wheatley had to endure in the same role in Hong Kong.

After Lehman Brothers collapsed he become the focus of the anger of locals who feared losing their investments.

"I had people marching on the streets with banners with photos of me on them saying go home, death of justice, disgrace," Mr Wheatley said. "I had noise all day outside my office where they would camp with klaxons and drums. I had a funeral effigy of me burnt outside the office. That was the set of things I had to deal with. It's a different sort of pressure than in the UK."

The political scrutiny in the UK – he started at the Financial Services Authority in September last year – is also nothing compared with what he experienced in Asia.

"Here I have to appear occasionally in front of the Treasury Select Committee and they'll give me a pretty tough time for an hour or so," he said. "In Hong Kong I think my record was 11 hours in one session in front of the legislative council. They would be shouting at me in Cantonese and I would be listening to an ear piece to an interpreter trying to say to me what was being said in English. I remember after one of those sessions one of my team saying how they thought that it was amazing that I remained calm."

It's rather hard to imagine this thin, outwardly affable 53-year-old losing his cool. And it was this calm intensity that helped Mr Wheatley pull through in Hong Kong. How his difficulties there were resolved is something to which the City of London should pay close attention: "We survived and I'm delighted that, tough though it was, and it was very, very tough, we got them all their money back."

Mr Wheatley is a rather different beast to his predecessors. He is neither grand like Sir Howard Davies was, nor flash like John Tiner; you can't imagine him driving a Porsche like Mr Tiner's with a personalised number plate. Despite spending 18 years at the London Stock Exchange during the first part of his career, he is a long way from being part of the City establishment like Hector Sants, the last chief executive of the Financial Services Authority before it becomes Mr Wheatley's Financial Conduct Authority.

No, Mr Wheatley is all business, bringing to the role a wintry determination to get results. Those who worked with him at the exchange, where he drove through radical reforms, praise his incisive mind. In Hong Kong people who dealt with him talk about his work ethic: "You wouldn't see him at the clubs with the other expats with a gin in his hand," one banking source said.

He rose to deputy chief executive of the London Stock Exchange before making an unlikely career change.

"I didn't chose to go into regulation, I had some time after leaving the stock exchange and I became a cabinet maker. I was designing and making furniture. It was great fun. It had always been a hobby and I'd always fancied doing it on a full-time basis."

He was on a skiing break from his cabinet-making when he was approached by a headhunter about the regulation job in Hong Kong.

He describes watching the meltdown that occurred in Western financial markets while out there as like watching "a complete horror show".

"Not being quite close to it you didn't realise how broken and dysfunctional it was."

And Mr Wheatley doesn't spare regulators from criticism for what happened: "There was a massive, collective bad judgement which includes the regulators, who were seduced by what went on just like everyone else."

Wheatley on...

Banks... "The truth is that if our supermarkets in this country, if John Lewis operated in a way that banks do, they wouldn't have any customers."

Working in Hong Kong... "I had a funeral effigy of me burnt outside the office. That was the sort of things I had to deal with. It's a different sort of pressure than in the UK."

2005-2008... "That was a horror period in terms of what we are discovering today in terms of the way people were abused in their financial services.

Suggested Topics
Arts and Entertainment
books
Voices
Caustic she may be, but Joan Rivers is a feminist hero, whether she likes it or not
voicesShe's an inspiration, whether she likes it or not, says Ellen E Jones
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor and the Dalek meet
tvReview: Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Sport
Diego Costa
footballEverton 3 Chelsea 6: Diego Costa double has manager purring
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
3D printed bump keys can access almost any lock
techSoftware needs photo of lock and not much more
Arts and Entertainment
The 'three chords and the truth gal' performing at the Cornbury Music Festival, Oxford, earlier this summer
music... so how did she become country music's hottest new star?
Life and Style
The spy mistress-general: A lecturer in nutritional therapy in her modern life, Heather Rosa favours a Byzantine look topped off with a squid and a schooner
fashionEurope's biggest steampunk convention heads to Lincoln
News
Dr Alice Roberts in front of a
peopleAlice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Star turns: Montacute House
tv
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
News
i100Steve Carell selling chicken, Tina Fey selling saving accounts and Steve Colbert selling, um...
Arts and Entertainment
Unsettling perspective: Iraq gave Turner a subject and a voice (stock photo)
booksBrian Turner's new book goes back to the bloody battles he fought in Iraq
News
The Digicub app, for young fans
advertisingNSPCC 'extremely concerned'
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Some of the key words and phrases to remember
booksA user's guide to weasel words
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Law Costs

Highly Attractive Salary: Austen Lloyd: BRISTOL - This is a very unusual law c...

Network Engineer (CCNP, CCNA, Linux, OSPF, BGP, Multicast, WAN)

£35000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Network Engineer (CCNP, CCNA, Linux, OSPF,...

DevOps Engineer (Systems Administration, Linux, Shell, Bash)

£50000 per annum: Harrington Starr: DevOps Engineer (Systems Administration, L...

Data Scientist (SQL, PHP, RSPSS, CPLEX, SARS, AI) - London

£60000 - £70000 per annum: Harrington Starr: A prestigious leading professiona...

Day In a Page

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

As the collections start, fashion editor Alexander Fury finds video and the internet are proving more attractive
Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy

Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall...

... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy
Weekend at the Asylum: Europe's biggest steampunk convention heads to Lincoln

Europe's biggest steampunk convention

Jake Wallis Simons discovers how Victorian ray guns and the martial art of biscuit dunking are precisely what the 21st century needs
Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Lying is dangerous and unnecessary. A new book explains the strategies needed to avoid it. John Rentoul on the art of 'uncommunication'
Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough? Was the beloved thespian the last of the cross-generation stars?

Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough?

The atomisation of culture means that few of those we regard as stars are universally loved any more, says DJ Taylor
She's dark, sarcastic, and bashes life in Nowheresville ... so how did Kacey Musgraves become country music's hottest new star?

Kacey Musgraves: Nashville's hottest new star

The singer has two Grammys for her first album under her belt and her celebrity fans include Willie Nelson, Ryan Adams and Katy Perry
American soldier-poet Brian Turner reveals the enduring turmoil that inspired his memoir

Soldier-poet Brian Turner on his new memoir

James Kidd meets the prize-winning writer, whose new memoir takes him back to the bloody battles he fought in Iraq
Aston Villa vs Hull match preview: Villa were not surprised that Ron Vlaar was a World Cup star

Villa were not surprised that Vlaar was a World Cup star

Andi Weimann reveals just how good his Dutch teammate really is
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef ekes out his holiday in Italy with divine, simple salads

Bill Granger's simple Italian salads

Our chef presents his own version of Italian dishes, taking in the flavours and produce that inspired him while he was in the country
The Last Word: Tumbleweed through deserted stands and suites at Wembley

The Last Word: Tumbleweed through deserted stands and suites at Wembley

If supporters begin to close bank accounts, switch broadband suppliers or shun satellite sales, their voices will be heard. It’s time for revolution