Bankers and regulators have a rocky relationship. Bankers sometimes say regulators are people that just weren’t smart enough to work on the Street. Regulators sometimes say bankers are evil.
I could go on.
So when someone moves from one side to the other without taking a big head honcho position (especially from banking to regulating), it can be a little surprising.
Everyone who makes this move obviously has their reasons, and they tend to be interesting.
The Guardian’s Banking Blog caught up with one regulator in London who left his job in ‘The City’ to make much less money working for the government. Why? He said that banking is an amoral environment where decisions are made without any consideration for morality. Not only that, but he was never really into material things.
But that’s not the most important thing. Bottom line, this former banker didn’t want to get trapped.
…I had become disillusioned at my bank. My friends from university are all teachers, doctors, police offers. I found myself increasingly embarrassed about what I did. I suppose the public-sector background of my social circle kept me grounded. I was always ambivalent, even though I was good at it. Without wanting to fly my own kite, I was always getting reviews saying, ‘Exceeds expectations,’ and that sort of thing.
“Also, I just wasn’t into luxury goods. The way it works for so many is that you fall into this industry, it is high-profile and the money is quite good; you get intoxicated and over time you get trapped. I remember reaching a point when I thought, ‘If I don’t move out of the bank now, I never will.’ Then I thought, ‘Where can I use my skills usefully?’ Answer: at the regulator. Lots of my colleagues at the FSA have been in banks. You need a mix – outsiders whose fresh perspective allows them to ask the simple big questions, and former insiders like me who can cut through the bullshit that banks feed you.
The banks, though, still have this regulators resume. He says he may be even more attractive to them now then ever before. The relationship between regulators and The Street is less cozy than it was before, and banks want some employees who know what government officials are thinking about.
So think about that.
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