FCA Appoints Top Hong Kong Regulator Ashley Alder as New Chair
One of Hong Kong’s top financial officials, Ashley Alder, is leaving his role as chief executive of the city’s markets regulator to become chair of the Financial Conduct Authority.
The Securities and Futures Commission, an independent body established in 1989 to regulate Hong Kong’s securities and futures markets, has developed a reputation for being a much more proactive gatekeeper under Alder, who has been CEO since October 2011.
Alder, who had been due to stay in the post until September 2023, will take up his new role in January. He helped forge the SFC into “a determined, effective, and independent market regulator well respected by its local and international peers,” said Tim Lui, the regulator’s chairman, on July 8.
The Hong Kong government said it would soon start a global search for a new CEO. Alder will succeed Richard Lloyd, who has served as interim chair of the FCA since May.
Alder’s first major act in the job was to introduce tougher rules for initial public offerings in Hong Kong. In recent years, the SFC has imposed heavier fines on financial institutions for misconduct, keeping up with increased scrutiny and penalties globally after the 2008 financial crisis. It has fined and penalised banks such as UBS, Bank of America, Morgan Stanley, and Citigroup, among others.
The former lawyer also led the regulator as Chinese companies, including technology giants, were looking to go public and as the city worked to compete with the US to attract listings.
The SFC had originally opposed dual-class shares—which give more rights to one class of investors than another—but later reversed its position. In 2018, Hong Kong allowed tech companies with weighted-voting rights to list in the city, paving the way for listings by companies such as Xiaomi, Meituan, and Alibaba.
Alder has also pushed to develop climate finance. The International Organisation of Securities Commissions, which Alder has chaired since 2016, adopted a plan earlier this year to increase transparency and mitigate greenwashing in sustainable finance. The SFC has also worked with the Hong Kong Monetary Authority, the city’s de facto central bank, to build up the sector in recent years.
Alder had previously planned to step down in 2020 but agreed to stay on for three more years at a time of market stress during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In a statement shared by the UK Treasury, Alder said he valued the opportunity to work for the FCA “as it helps chart the UK’s post-Brexit future as a global financial centre which continues to support innovation and competition.”