Apart from being appointed a senator for life to the Canadian parliament, or, as it was in the old days, becoming a member of the International Olympic Committee, there surely are few things as likely to raise the ire of ordinary folk than news a former civil servant has been appointed to a fat cat job in an industry he or she previously regulated.
Of course, such actions are not limited to those tasked with carrying out the orders of elected ministers – often ministers themselves try to take advantage of "The System", as David Blunkett found out to his misery.
The rot seems to permeate every which way: in most countries it is easy to find ex-policemen employed by security firms, armed forces staff joining arms makers, and medical professionals previously employed by the state now developing drugs or, more likely, helping forge a path through regulatory barriers to getting a product to market.
And so to financial services. While fully aware of the vested interests of financial journalists in securing jobs with companies on which they write, there are surely huge moral and legal differences between switching jobs from one private sector employer to another private sector employer, compared with the practise pursued by those who are already in possession of future income by virtue of gilt-edged taxpayer funded pension income.
The moral/legal argument is strong enough to see rules put in place to stop senior civil servants from easily taking jobs with firms they previously regulated, but not so strong as to ban the practice altogether.
And for an industry as generally tarnished in the consumer mind as financial services (go on, admit it: how many of you really look forward to the next Watchdog, Money Box or Panorama 'special'), it must surely come as a bitter pill to see a story involving former FSA chairman Howard Davies apparently set to take up a role with a new insurance company.
Apart from policyholders in Equitable Life, who no doubt will be wondering whether to laugh or cry, the appointment raises serious questions about what role the FSA plays in regulation of the industry, and which of its employment rules may need to change to maintain market confidence.
Of course, even despite the arguments whether staff at the FSA represent the state or not - and surely it must be the former as the organisation ultimately reports to Parliament - as it stands there is every possibility Davies will now be able to go into meetings with current FSA chief executive John Tiner carrying a huge psychological advantage on behalf of his new employer.
And, while current FSA chairman Callum McCarthy has proven himself no pushover in dealing with regulated companies - and then in more than one industry - one cannot but help feel there may be a sense of deference in the air were he and Davies to meet in the corridors of Canary Wharf.
Finally, of course, it is industry competitors who are likely to mutter most. For, ironically, while any number of them would undoubtedly loved to have pulled off a similar coup, they will now be facing a competitor with a distinct implied regulatory edge.
If you have any comments you would like to add to this story or would like to speak to its author about a similar subject, telephone Jonathan Boyd on 020 7484 9769 or email [email protected].IFAonline
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