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City watchdog recruits new chair from Hong Kong regulator

·2-min read
The Stratford-based FCA’s previous chair stepped down a year early  (REUTERS)
The Stratford-based FCA’s previous chair stepped down a year early (REUTERS)

The City’s watchdog has announced the appointment of a new chairman, poaching Ashley Alder, the current chief executive of Hong Kong’s main financial regulator.

Alder will take up the job at the Financial Conduct Authority in January having been appointed by the Treasury for an initial term of five years. He started his career in London as a lawyer in 1984, and has worked in Hong Kong for over 20 years, becoming CEO of the Securities and Futures Commission in 2011. He already sits on the Financial Stability Board’s steering committee and chairs the International Organization of Securities Commissions.

“I value the opportunity to contribute to a crucial phase in the FCA’s history as it helps chart the UK’s post-Brexit future as a global financial centre which continues to support innovation and competition through its own world-leading regulatory standards,” said Alder.

He will take over at the FCA from its interim chairman, Richard Lloyd, who said: “As the FCA continues to strengthen its vital work to protect consumers and our financial markets, Ashley’s deep experience of leading a major international regulator will help us deliver our ambitious strategy for the future.”

Simon Morris, a financial services partner with law firm CMS, called Alder’s appointment “excellent”, adding: “The FCA has finally got a Chair who knows what regulation looks like from the inside track. Ashley Alder will bring much needed pragmatism to the FCA board.”

The FCA is partway through a three-year turnaround plan which followed a series of high-profile scandals during which its oversight practices faced sustained criticism,  including the high-profile collapses of London Capital & Finance (LCF) and Neil Woodford’s investment management business. An independent investigation into the FCA’s role in the LCF scandal was highly critical. Its previous permanent chairman, Charles Randell, stepped down in May around a year before his five-year term was due to end.

Staff at the regulator went on strike earlier this summer for the first time in the FCA’s history in a dispute over the way in which pay and conditions were overhauled by its chief executive, Nikhil Rathi.

Based in Stratford at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, the FCA regulates over 50,000 financial services firms and the UK’s financial markets. It is an independent organisation, accountable to the Treasury and to Parliament.

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