Citywire for Financial Professionals
Stay connected:

View the article online at

Knighthood for FSA chief damages honours system, say MPs

MPs have hit out at the decision to award former Financial Services Authority chief executive Hector Sants a knighthood claiming it discredits the honours system.

Knighthood for FSA chief damages honours system, say MPs

MPs have hit out at the decision to award former Financial Services Authority (FSA) chief executive Hector Sants a knighthood claiming it discredits the honours system, according to reports.

The Financial Times reported that MPs Douglas Carswell, a Conservative MP for Surrey, and Pat McFadden, Labour MP and member of the Commons Treasury committee, criticised the decision, with Carswell telling the paper: ‘a knighthood is becoming almost as debased a currency as the British pound'.

McFadden told the FT: ‘At a time when the country is still paying for the financial crisis, I think most people will find it odd that someone in a key regulatory position during that period ends up being knighted – especially when British heroes like Mo Farah were not.’

The paper said Sants was thought to have been recommended for the knighthood by chancellor George Osborne, who persuaded him to revoke his decision to quit as head of the FSA after the 2010 election.

Last month Sants courted controversy by accepting a new role as head of compliance at Barclays, the bank with which he clashed when at the FSA.

Sants joined the FSA in 2004 after a career in investment banking culminated in him becoming an executive director of Credit Suisse First Boston. His first role at the regulator was to head its wholesale division, rising to chief executive in July 2007 when John Tiner left. The promotion came just as the credit crunch broke, provoking Britain's worst banking crisis with the near collapses of Northern Rock, Bradford & Bingley, RBS and HBOS.

The FSA's failure to act before the financial crisis prompted the Conservatives to scrap the regulator when they came to power with the Liberal Democrats. This year it will be replaced by two new regulators, the Prudential Regulation Authority and the Financial Conduct Authority, both overseen by the Bank of England. 

28 comments so far. Why not have your say?

Chris F

Jan 03, 2013 at 11:48

In 1990 Sants was on the board of UBS when they sacked and sued their head researcher for disclosing what seemed to be abuses of accounting practice.

It is talked about in this article from 2005:

'Yet he blushes when asked to talk about the link and refuses to do so. Eventually, he says, "The only thing I would say, as a former analyst, is that the piece of research was an excellent one." '

This guy really is a class act.

report this

al young

Jan 03, 2013 at 13:51

Sants got his Knighthood for growling and posturing and doing absolutely nothing to reprimand that most errant and fraudulent banks. He did exactly what he was told to.

report this

Chris Clark

Jan 03, 2013 at 13:53

Hector's resume:

• Hector Sants says bankers should be 'very frightened' of the FSA

• FSA chief 'truly sorry' for RBS failure

• Three years on, FSA fails to bite over bankers' pay - Telegraph

• Arch cru scandal

• Keydata

• Hector Sants , FSA Chief Executive, 'Could Not Stop RBS-ABN Amro'

• 'The Failure of the Royal Bank of Scotland'

• Former head of FSA Hector Sants in line for package of 3m

• Honours list: Former FSA chief Hector Sants knighted despite regulatory failures

• Hector Sants, Former FSA Boss Who Presided Over Collapse Of Northern Rock, Awarded Knighthood In Queen's New Year's Honours List

• Why Barclays gains more than Hector Sants | Irish Sun

Somehow, I would query whether moves like this are connected with the 2015 General Election, (look up the betting odds) and it doesn't bode well for bank ring fencing either.

(Originally posted in FT Adviser)

report this

John Leighton

Jan 03, 2013 at 14:01

So, all you have to do to get a knighthood is sleep on the job.

Never mind, there's no honour in the honours system anyway.

report this

Anonymous 1 needed this 'off the record'

Jan 03, 2013 at 14:24

This is a great insult to people like Bradley Wiggins who have actually achieved something of great honour and respect. As for anyone with anything to do with banking - I wouldn't spit on them.

report this

Alan Tonks

Jan 03, 2013 at 14:51

As a regulator he did what he was told, like all the other regulators he did absolutely nothing. That is apart from taking his salary and getting a top job from one of the banks he wasn’t ‘regulating’

As for doing nothing and getting a Knighthood who cares, they are worthless. All honours have been so since the MBE was awarded for taking drugs back in 1964.

I have an idea though; we have already sold our gold reserve for peanuts by a monkey (my apologies to the real monkeys). We have sold off our manufacturing base to foreigners. Why don’t we sell off the honours list whilst I agree they a worthless to us, they might be worth a few bob to Johnny foreigner.

report this

Alistair Hinton

Jan 03, 2013 at 14:53

As most here probably already realise, Citywire published a piece about this honour before the MPs said their respective pieces in response to it; it's at

and has already spawned two petitions and attracted what I imagine to be an unprecedented number of responses.

report this

derek farman

Jan 03, 2013 at 15:02

So who on earth compiles the list !

report this

Alistair Hinton

Jan 03, 2013 at 15:11

@ Derek Farman:

Good question! In the specific context of Mr Sants's honour I have heard the names of both the PM and C of the E mentioned but cannot confirm the precise origin of the recommendation; if it came as part of a recommendation letter one might wonder if it could be deemed compliant...

report this

Chris Clark

Jan 03, 2013 at 15:32

Dear all,

Replying to Derek Farman, it seems that anyone in the country can nominate people for an honour, and a large committee assesses it. The committee list can be found here:

Now, looking down the list, which looks like a pretty sensible group of people, and considering Sants past record, I am some doubtful that a single soul would have put up with the nomination. There is a rumour that Osborne pushed for it, and maybe if he had, why would they have listened. Awards Intelligence managing director Mark Llewellyn-Slade is of the opinion Sants was nominated directly by David Cameron.

The ePetition mentioned has now been pulled off the ePetition site for being "E-petitions cannot include information about honours or appointments.".

Now with a move to Barclays Bank at about 6 times his FSA salary of £500k/pa, he is considered the most controversial appointment of the whole 2013 Honours list.

So this really is starting to look frankly odd. Why knight a failure, and give them a 6 times salary increase for heading up compliance at a large bank fighting ring fence rules?

report this

peter montgomery

Jan 03, 2013 at 17:08

Next award;Sants acquires Sainthood?

report this

Alistair Hinton

Jan 03, 2013 at 17:16

@ peter montgomery:

Possibly - though maybe not before a knighthood for Martin Wheatley...

report this

joe stalin

Jan 03, 2013 at 17:19

Reward for failure is ok when you work in the public sector goes with a great pension to boot.

report this

Lyndon Edwards

Jan 03, 2013 at 17:23

@ Alan Tonks

I doubt that Hector 'did what he was told' ; it's more likely he did what he wanted. The problem with the current set-up is precisely that no-one can tell the FSA what to do.

Amazingly, there is a complete Treasury department devoted to financial services with a salary bill heading towards £1m ++ per year. Who are these people? What do they do? How do they interact with the FSA, and who takes precedent? Has anyone the time to do a request. under the FOI Act?

Copy the link below into your search engine and look at page 5, it's an eye-opener.


report this

Alan Tonks

Jan 03, 2013 at 18:34

Lyndon Edwards

I have to disagree, why do you think he got his joke Knighthood?

report this


Jan 04, 2013 at 00:15

The Honours system was damaged and disgraced years ago by Blair along with the Life Peerage system.

Thank him for the disgraceful state it is in now.

report this


Jan 04, 2013 at 00:15

The Honours system was damaged and disgraced years ago by Blair along with the Life Peerage system.

Thank him for the disgraceful state it is in now.

report this


Jan 04, 2013 at 09:37

The honours system at every point above the BEM is corrupt, tainted and should undergo root and branch reform. Athletes, entertainers, business people are no more deserving of awards than politicians unless they have achieved great and/or consistant good for society by design and intent, rather than for themselves. However political peerages have to be the most obscene corruption of all, as each successive PM crams the Lords ever more full of second rate political lickspittles.

report this

Rose G

Jan 04, 2013 at 09:52

No surprises there then. I am still amazed at the lack of irony - honours indeed, more like honour among thieves, if you ask me.

The honours system only reflects the most hypocritical system ever set up; we have a monarch who was chosen by god to rule her people, and she is doing so and will do so ad infinitum. The honours system is approved by her, so if we are to carry this to the end, she is as corrupt as the system she reigns over.

In any event, she also invites & rolls out the red carpet for some very dubious characters in head scarves, whose human rights abuse is well documented, but she is the queen bee, so no one is going to say no, are they.

As I already stated, what the honours system lacks is honour itself - Fred Goodwin - honours? & all those remaining in posts within the financial services have retained all their benefits inspite of failing dysmally in dealing with their corrupt banking system.

Happy new year & happy days are here again!

report this


Jan 05, 2013 at 18:51

Sants getting a Knighthood for being either totally inept or if not, complicit in the credit crunch debacle, when running the FSA make a complete joke of the Honours system. This man should have been punished and humiliated like Fred Goodwin, not given a reward!

The powers to be actually took a Knighthood off Fred Goodwin and give it to the man who was overseeing his crime!

What a joke

report this

John Harmer

Jan 06, 2013 at 10:21

Now we realise the truth. The regulator is a waste of time and energy. He is cosmetic only.

Let us have common sense.Caveal emptor. That system works

report this


Jan 06, 2013 at 10:54

Honours of any description should not be awarded to people for doing their paid job, whether a politician, actor, sportsman, tv "personality", civil servant, policeman or regulator. They are all well paid for doing their jobs.

Honours should only be awarded to people who have contributed for the benefit of society without receipt of any form of payment.

report this

Derek Chandler via mobile

Jan 06, 2013 at 13:01

While the rest of the country are still suffering and being punished for the financial crisis bankers are STILL being awarded for failure, given disgraceful and immoral pay rises and bonus, and it seems that this is as true for failed regulators as it is for failed banks. When the coalition government took over the country they promised two things: cuts and fairness ("we're all in it together"). Well the cuts - in services and benefits - have drastically affected the poor, and pay freezes and pay cuts have affected the middle class, but the rich have not only got away scot-free but seen disproportionate pay rises and bonuses for losses. When will this government close tax loopholes, cap wages, stop bonuses and awards for failure, and ensure that the rich pay their way, invest in UK plc and pay their staff a decent wage that at least keeps pace with inflation? For "we're all in it together" read "we're protecting our rich mates and screwing the poor and powerless." That's oppression and abuse of power in my book!

report this

Stan Robertson

Jan 06, 2013 at 16:13

What a joke!

MPs claiming that the Honours System has been debased.

I lost all respect for it years ago, when I realised that failed MPs were given Peerages or Knighthoods just to get rid of them.

I fully respect the ordinary members of the public who have fully justified the honour given by their achievements. The present system of dispensing Titles like confetti on deadbeats and failures is to be deplored.

report this

Ian Lewthwaite

Jan 06, 2013 at 16:29

What a bloody disgrace for the knighthood appointmentssystem.

Why don't we just call it " Daves a*** kissing for his mates, and other incompetent B****** award"

report this


Jan 06, 2013 at 20:29

Well there's a surprise. Nice cushty little FSA number, be nice to the rich bank boys and your elite puppet masters in westminster...and you get "rewarded" with a cap toffing undeserved title. And we will further feather your shite filled nest with more of what you did not save from the rest of the UK. What a stench ...even third world dictators fare more honourable than this lot of grabbit-'n-runs!

report this

White Stick follower

Jan 07, 2013 at 16:42

Do nothing, say nothing & you'll never upset anybody. No doubt the title goes with the job, as it cannot be any form of recognition for FSA effectiveness, it being totally useless. It only identifies improper/irregular activity after the event and investors have lost their money. Then it does a review and determines what went wrong- take Precipice Bonds, banned when they went belly up, what happened well Structured Products appeared- same product, different name, and guess what investors lost their money, so FSA did a review and reported on what was wrong with the marketing of these products- and lo- it must not ever happen again. Pity FSA didn't notice the change of clothes of these beasts, before they swallowed Joe Public's money.

report this

Ian Lewthwaite

Jan 07, 2013 at 17:23

If we can see how uselessthe FSA was, son of FIMBRA, it is carryon again.

They couldn't find their backsideswith either hand in broad daylight - they are that good

report this

leave a comment

Please sign in here or register here to comment. It is free to register and only takes a minute or two.

News sponsored by:

The Citywire Guide to Investment Trusts

In this guide to investment trusts, produced in association with Aberdeen Asset Management, we spoke to many of the leading experts in the field to find out more.

Watch Now

Today's articles

Tools from Citywire Money

From the Forums

+ Start a new discussion

Weekly email from The Lolly

Get simple, easy ways to make more from your money. Just enter your email address below

An error occured while subscribing your email. Please try again later.

Thank you for registering for your weekly newsletter from The Lolly.

Keep an eye out for us in your inbox, and please add to your safe senders list so we don't get junked.


The Accumulator: FTSE see-saws on trade war fears

by Michelle McGagh on Jun 22, 2018 at 14:57

Sorry, this link is not
quite ready yet