One of the City watchdog’s chief policymakers is set to quit his £364,000-a-year job ahead of the publication of a damning report into its handling of market-sensitive news about the insurance industry.
Clive Adamson, who is in charge of supervision at the Financial Conduct Authority, has been with the regulator and its predecessor, the Financial Services Authority, for seven years.
During that time he has been at the forefront of its clampdown on City excess, but he was caught up in controversy in March when he was quoted in a national newspaper as saying that the regulator planned an inquiry into 30 million pension and investment policies dating back to the 1970s.
The botched announcement wiped more than £3bn off the value of Britain’s biggest insurers in one day, even though the FCA later clarified that the probe would be narrower than first thought.
Within days, George Osborne wrote to the FCA’S chairman, John Griffith-Jones, saying that he was “profoundly concerned”.
“These events go to the heart of the FCA’s responsibility for the good order and integrity of UK financial markets, and have been damaging both to the FCA as an institution and to the UK’s reputation for regulatory stability and confidence,” said Mr Osborne. “I expect you and the FCA board to do everything possible to make good that damage.”
The Association of British also wrote to the Chancellor, expressing its own concern: “Our letter is not calling for heads to roll, but for lessons to be learned.”
The FCA is preparing to publish a report next Wednesday following an inquiry led by Simon Davis, a partner at the law firm Clifford Chance. This is expected to recommend tighter guidelines when briefing the media.
Leading FCA executives, including Mr Adamson, may also be hauled before the Treasury Select Committee. The regulator’s chief executive, Martin Wheatley, has already refused to resign over the fiasco, which was labelled an “extraordinary blunder” by the committee chairman Andrew Tyrie
The investigation into the debacle will cap an eventful year for insurers, which are still coming to terms with radical reforms outlined in March’s Budget, in which Mr Osborne revealed that savers will no longer be forced to buy an annuity when they retire.
That news shaved £4.5bn off the value of the industry in one afternoon. Analysts at Barclays believe the UK individual annuity market will shrink in value from £12bn to £4bn a year within 18 months. The FCA declined to comment.