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Stress and the City: Sants signed off

Former FSA chief Sir Hector Sants has taken a leave of absence as Barclays' compliance boss because of stress.

by Emma Haslett
Last Updated: 13 Nov 2013
Having led the Financial Services Authority through the worst of the economic crisis, it’s pretty clear Sir Hector Sants is a tough nut.

But trying to get Barclays to do as it’s told has proven too much for him: the bank said today that he has taken a leave of absence from his new job running its compliance department after being diagnosed with ‘exhaustion and stress’.

Sants (whose annual pay package is estimated at £3m) was appointed by new chief executive Antony Jenkins in January, in an attempt to improve Barclays’ image. He had run the FSA for five years, but left three months before it was due to be separated into two organisations, the Prudential Regulation Authority and the Financial Conduct Authority.

Since his appointment, not only has Sants had to deal with the ongoing dramas of PPI and Libor, but also an investigation into the bank’s 2008 capital raising in Qatar. Looking at it that way, it’s surprising he’s lasted this long.

This is becoming a trend for senior bankers: in 2011, Lloyds boss Antonio Horta-Osorio took a leave of absence after just 10 months in the job. At the time, he had just slashed 45,000 jobs in an attempt to cut cost, as well as setting aside £3.3bn to pay off PPI mis-selling claimants. That sort of thing tends to take its toll…

Sants’ situation will highlight the levels of stress City types have to endure. Taking the heat is seen as part and parcel of the City’s macho culture – but when it all becomes too much, most businesses would rather have someone in charge who is clear-headed than tearing their hair our. Get well soon, Sir Hector…

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