Industry veteran takes head of Scotland role at FCA (From HeraldScotland)

A FINANCIAL services veteran with experience of working at big names such as Aegon and Standard Life has been handed the newly created role of head of Scotland at industry regulator the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).

Maggie Craig, who has been head of insurance and pensions policy at the watchdog since she joined from the Association of British Insurers (ABI) in 2014, will take up the new role in September.

Prior to joining the ABI Ms Craig held roles including head of public affairs at Standard Life and pensions development manager at Aegon.

A spokeswoman for the FCA said that while it and predecessors including the Financial Services Association have had a presence in Edinburgh since 1988, there has never been a specific head of Scotland role before.

It has been created now so Ms Craig, who was appointed following a competitive recruitment process, can put in place a new strategy for how the regulator will operate north of the Border at the same time as formalising the way the Scottish arm contributes to wider FCA policies.

This is likely to see her work on a number of high-profile FCA initiatives, such as its ongoing investigation into the pension transfer market.

Earlier this month the regulator issued a damning report into the fallout from pensions freedoms introduced by former Chancellor George Osborne, noting that large numbers of consumers have been withdrawing pension savings without taking advice as to the tax implications.

The FCA will issue a full report into the retirement income market next year and is currently considering whether further measures need to be put in place to protect consumers.

As a large number of pension providers, including Aegon, Standard Life and Scottish Widows, are based in Edinburgh, Ms Craig will be responsible for liaising with them over such market reviews.

This is something she has experience of, having been part of the team that put together the 2002 Pickering report into pensions simplification.

That report, which looked at ways of improving pension provision across the workforce, suggested making membership of a workplace pension compulsory.

This later formed part of the 2009 Pensions Act, which paved the way for the automatic enrolment of employees into pension schemes, albeit with the opportunity to opt out afterwards.

The role will also be similar to the one Ms Craig held at the ABI, where in addition to being director of financial conduct regulation she was also head of Scottish affairs.

Looking ahead to her September start date, Ms Craig said she is “very much looking forward” to taking on the new role at the UK regulator.

“Our continued presence in Scotland is extremely important and through developing a new strategy we’ll be able to maximise our impact,’ she said.

FCA chief executive Andrew Bailey said Ms Craig’s appointment represents “a significant step” that underlines the regulator’s “commitment to our presence in Scotland”.

“Maggie brings to the role a large amount of experience and knowledge including established stakeholder relationships which will stand her in good stead for developing the FCA’s presence in Scotland,” Mr Bailey added.

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