UK Markets closed

FCA appoints Hong Kong regulator Ashley Alder as new chair

·3-min read

The City watchdog has appointed a new chair as it tries to mend its reputation after a series of scandals and it continues to face talks with unions.

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) said that former lawyer Ashley Alder will take up the role from the beginning of next year.

He takes over a regulator reeling from a series of missteps over recent years.

In March, the FCA set out plans to deliver £71.2 million in compensation to former members of the British Steel Pension Scheme (BSPS) who were given poor advice about transferring money out of their pensions.

However, MPs argued that not everyone who deserved compensation would receive it.

The regulator has also faced a backlash over its response to the £236 million collapse of London Capital & Finance, which pushed unregulated minibonds on retail investors, and the implosion of British fund manager Neil Woodford’s flagship Equity Income Fund, which left many consumers out of pocket.

Mr Alder is currently chief financial officer of the Securities and Futures Commission of Hong Kong and previously held senior roles at multinational law firm Herbert Smith Freehills.

He is set to take on the role in January 2023 for a five year term and will succeed Richard Lloyd who has served as interim chair since May 2022.

The latter took over the role from Charles Randell, who held it since April 2018, and led the regulator through the UK’s exit from the EU, the pandemic, as well as its transition to a new executive team under chief executive Nikhil Rathi in 2020.

The FCA has recently faced unrest among staff, with 90% of staff with Unite memberships voting to support industrial action short of strike action over changes to pay and conditions.

On May 4 and 5, about 240 FCA staff went on strike outside the regulator’s London and Edinburgh offices, with many more taking part remotely.

Further strikes occurred on June 9 and 10, with further strike action suspended, pending further talks.

Mr Alder said: “It’s a great privilege to have the opportunity to chair the FCA, whose core work is so vital to the financial health of consumers.

“I also 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.”

Simon Morris, a financial services partner with law firm CMS said the appointment would bring “much needed pragmatism” to the role.

“The FCA has finally got a chair who knows what regulation looks like from the inside track,” he said.

“Ashley Alder will bring much needed pragmatism to the FCA board from his experience of running a major regulator.”

The FCA regulates the UK’s financial services industry. In recent years, several companies have been thrust into the spotlight because of financial wrongdoing.

In June 2022, fintech company Wise announced that its billionaire co-founder and chief executive, Kristo Kaarmann, was being investigated by the watchdog.

Mr Kaarmann was named last September on a list of people that HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) has fined for deliberately defaulting on his taxes.

The Treasury has also announced that Liam Coleman and Dr Alice Maynard will be reappointed to the board of the FCA in November.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting