The chief executive of Britain's City watchdog yesterday said he planned to quit his £572,000 post in July to seek work in the private sector.
John Tiner, 49, will have been with the Financial Services Authority for six years when he departs, becoming chief executive in 2003. He will remain on the FSA payroll until 2008 and will not be able to work for any financial services business or listed company during that time.
Mr Tiner has picked a good time to leave the FSA, with tributes from the City ringing in his ears and no major crises on the horizon.
It follows the decisions of both Richard Harvey, the Aviva chief executive, and James Crosby, who held the top job at HBOS, to depart at times of their own choosing.
Both had obvious successors in place but that is not the case with Mr Tiner with three internal candidates set to put up a strong fight for the top job along with several possible names from outside the organisation.
The City bookie Cantor Index immediately installed FSA managing director Clive Briault as favourite to take over with fellow managing director Hector Sants hot on his heels.
Chairman Callum McCarthy said he would lead a committee that would conduct a search among both internal and external candidates.
Mr Tiner's successor will have a tough legacy to live up to. He played a key role in piloting through the introduction of "principles based" regulation in the UK that eschews inflexible fixed rules in favour of broad guidelines and has been attracting considerable interest from overseas.
Before assuming the top job, he set up the "Tiner" review of the way life insurers are regulated, which abandoned many of the old, and much criticised practices of the past in favour of a modern "risk-based" approach.
He also managed to ride out the storm of 2003 when the stock market briefly threatened to fall beneath the 3,200 level without any major financial collapses, suspending some of the strict rules on life insurance solvency. That decision scuppered the ambitions of speculators who aggressively shorted the market in the hope of pushing one over the edge.
Mr Tiner also oversaw a sweeping reorganisation of the FSA, which has met with a favourable response in the City and managed to settle the split capital investment trust scandal. That involved pushing through a deal that the industry was able to live with while also offering some measure of compensation for consumers.
During his time at the head of the organisation Mr Tiner also survived a brush with cancer.
On the downside, the appeal against a heavy fine for alleged endowment misselling by insurer Legal & General gave a less than flattering picture of some of the FSA's disciplinary procedures and was generally seen as a victory for the insurer.
His penchant for flashy Porsches with personalised number plates bearing the legend T1NER also caused much amusement in certain circles and appeared at odds with the sort of image a regulator might want.
An accountant by training, who spent almost 25 years at the now defunct Arthur Andersen, Mr Tiner ought to have his pick of top jobs once he is free of his contractual requirements.
Yesterday he said: "The job has been immensely enjoyable and it has been a privilege to lead this organisation and its excellent people. But I would like to do another job in the private sector before I think about retirement."
Mr McCarthy said: "In the UK, John has made an enormous contribution to the health of the financial services industry and to the well being of those who use its services - both wholesale and retail."
Alan Yarrow, who chairs the influential London Investment Banking Association, said: "He has done a good job.
The reorganisation of the FSA under John Tiner has helped to ensure that the regulatory requirements for different sectors are properly understood and managed appropriately."
Andy Stewart, the chairman of stockbroker Cenkos Securities, said: "I think he was top class. He will be sorely missed in the regulated environment."
The former Prudential UK boss Mark Wood, now chief executive of life insurer Paternoster, said: "John Tiner's legacy will be to have created an operationally proficient organisation."
Runners and riders to be next FSA chief executive
The FSA's three internal candidates to be the next chief executive are very much at the head of the field, if the betting is to be believed.
The City bookmaker Cantor Index has installed Clive Briault as the early favourite at odds of 7-4.
Mr Briault assumed the role of managing director of retail markets in April 2004, giving him responsibility for the FSA's retail agenda and work on raising financial capability among consumers.
An economist by profession he spent 18 years at the Bank of England in a variety of regulatory and monetary policy roles before joining the FSA at its inception in 1998. Cantor's David Buik said: "He is a financial guru and has been Tiner's reliable deputy."
But will his lack of commercial experience be a handicap?
His chief market rival is Hector Sants, managing director, wholesale and institutional markets, who has shot to prominence after taking on the hedge fund industry last year. Private equity is now in his sights. He joined the regulator in May 2004 from Credit Suisse First Boston, so has the advantage of a commercial background. Many people's favourite and the way his profile has shot up is reminiscent of the way Mr Tiner's did before he took over. Cantor makes him 5-2 second favourite.
David Kenmir, managing director of regulatory services, is third favourite at 3-1. He joined the FSA from the Securities & Futures Authority, one of its numerous predecessor organisations. He enjoys a lower profile than the other two. Part of his role involves dealing with operational issues such as property and IT and is probably the outsider of the internal candidates.
Former HBOS chief executive, James Crosby, is at 7-2, the shortest price of Cantor's early runners from outside the FSA. A huge success at HBoS, and linked with any number of top jobs since his departure. He has indicated privately that he is not interested in this one.
At 5-1 DeAnne Julius, a former member of the Bank of England's Monetary Policy Committee, is a widely respected economist and politically well connected.
Kate Barker, current member of the MPC, is made an 8-1 shot as is Sir John Gieve, the Bank's deputy governor. Like Mr Crosby his position as a non executive director of the FSA might complicate matters.Reuse content