Walker Morris recruits OFT’s consumer credit director

Leeds firm Walker Morris has appointed the Office of Fair Trading (OFT)’s former director of consumer credit, Ray Watson, in a boost for its regulatory team.

Watson starts work at the firm next week after 28 years at the OFT. Most recently he headed up the office’s consumer credit licensing team and led the implementation of a new regulatory regime for consumer credit, following the Consumer Credit Act 2006.

He becomes a director at the firm, a position roughly equivalent to of counsel. Watson is not a lawyer.

The OFT is preparing to hand over control of consumer credit licensing to the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) in March 2014.

Walker Morris’s regulatory head Jeanette Harwood said Watson’s hire would enhance the firm’s skills base ahead of the “inevitable uncertainty” caused by the shift in control from the OFT to the FCA.

She added: “We do an awful lot of compliance and advisory work. We historically have found it valuable to have senior people within the team with regulatory experience. We’ve found that having that understanding of the regulatory’s mindset is really invaluable.”

Harwood said Watson’s hire had been sparked by clients indicating they wanted support in the consumer credit field.

“The next two years will be a major regulatory upheaval and I am keen to help businesses prepare for the change and ensure they comply with their legal obligations under credit legislation,” added Watson in a statement.