New Zealand FMA Continues Senior Level Restructure – Sue Brown Elected To Position of Head Of Strategy, Innovation and Development

As New Zealand's financial regulatory environment evolves, the FMA makes further appointments to its leadership team. Today, Sue Brown assumes

New Zealand’s financial markets regulator, the FMA, is evolving further as it develops from a small, newly established fringe regulatory body into a fully established organization which can carry credibility and ensure the alignment of New Zealand’s industry participants with that of other jurisdictions.

On Friday, the regulator welcomed Sue Brown to the position of Head of Strategy, Innovation and Engagement.

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As of tomorrow, Ms. Brown will step aside from her current duties as Head of Primary Regulatory Operations to lead FMA’s change management program over the next nine months.

The FMA has made significant tracks this year in instigating a clean-up of the market structure in New Zealand under the leadership of CEO Sean Hughes, who will step down from his role at the end of this year after announcing that he will not seek reelection.

Senior Level Shake Up

Mr. Hughes made a public statement on Friday to the effect that the appointment reflected the need for FMA to prepare itself for upcoming legislative reforms and the internal changes needed to respond to those reforms.

“The most significant change is the Financial Markets Conduct Bill which is due to be passed by Parliament later this year,” said Mr Hughes.

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Sue Brown, Head of Strategy,
Innovation and Development,
New Zealand FMA

“I am delighted Sue has agreed to accept the new role which underpins the importance FMA places on assisting the market with new regulatory requirements.”

Simone Robbers will step into the role of acting Head of Primary Regulatory Operations. Ms Robbers has been responsible for developing and leading FMA’s regulatory policy approach to financial markets legislative reform, including the Financial Markets Conduct Bill.

Ms. Robbers is a senior lawyer with a strong commercial background in financial services and has held senior legal, risk and compliance roles in the financial services industry both in New Zealand and in the United Kingdom.

“I welcome Simone to the executive leadership table and am confident she will continue to make a strong contribution especially in her interaction with market participants,” said Mr. Hughes.

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Scott McMurray will continue as acting Head of Stakeholder Management. Mr. McMurray stepped into the role in March when Diane Maxwell was appointed interim Retirement Commissioner. Ms Maxwell was confirmed in the role in June.

“Scott brings strong leadership skills to FMA’s stakeholder management and communications activities,” said Mr Hughes.

The regulatory reforms have already begun taking place, and commenced last year, when the New Zealand Financial Service Providers Register (FSP Register) issued a letter to all firms which claimed to be based in New Zealand that they required a physical office with compliance staff and operational facilities within New Zealand, or face de-registration.

In February, 250 firms were unregistered from the FSP register, most of which were overseas firms purporting to have operations in New Zealand.

Regulatory Restrictions

The FMA’s proposals to further tighten its regime have affected certain firms’ long term plans. Alpari packed up its New Zealand office recently, citing increased regulatory parameters as being a factor which made it no longer viable to have an office in the country.

Previously, New Zealand was a popular destination for market participants to establish operations in order to attract clients from nearby Asia-Pacific nations; one of the reasons for this being the comparative ease and inexpensive means of setting up in New Zealand before the regulatory reforms.

With this no longer the case, it will be interesting to note the number of FX firms that choose Australia, Hong Kong, Singapore and Japan as their bases for the Asia-Pacific region. If New Zealand’s regulator makes reforms to the point of requiring similar criteria to firms in those nations with greater FX client bases, it could be a natural conclusion that firms previously attracted to New Zealand because of ease of access may now eschew it.

Senior Management Structure

The FMA’s strategic leadership team which is tasked with delivering fair, efficient and transparent financial markets within the nation now consists of:

• Belinda Moffat – Head of Enforcement
• Elaine Campbell – Head of Compliance Monitoring
• Michelle Taylor – Head of People, Capability and Culture
• Sue Brown – Head of Strategy, Innovation and Engagement
• Simone Robbers – acting Head of Primary Regulatory Operations
• Liam Mason – Head of Legal and Board Secretary
• Dave Brady – Head of Finance and Business Operations
• Adam Hunt – Head of Strategic Intelligence
• Scott McMurray – acting Head of Stakeholder Management

As Mr. Hughes heads into his final few months in his leadership position at the FMA, he reinforced his opinion that the team is well positioned to lead the regulator forward during the external search for a successive CEO: “In light of my announcement that I will not be seeking re-appointment as Chief Executive at the end of my term later this year, I am confident that this executive team has the right mix of diverse perspective and experience as well as stability to support me in leading the organisation while the search for my successor is underway” concluded Mr. Hughes.

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