International Regulator appointed to head Financial Markets Authority

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FMA Chief Executive-designate Samantha Barrass (Photo Supplied)

Venkat Raman
Wellington, September 13, 2021

The Financial Markets Authority (FMA) has announced the appointment Samantha Barrass as its new Chief Executive.

Regarded as an international regulator of repute, Ms Barrass led the establishment of the Business Banking Resolution Service in the United Kingdom. Stated to be an innovative service, it aims to resolve disputes between banks and their business customers.

She will take up her new role in January 2022, subject to Covid-19 practicalities.

Current Chief Executive Rob Everett will leave at the end of October and General Counsel Liam Mason will be the Acting Chief Executive.

Impressive career

Ms Barrass has held senior roles at the UK Solicitors Regulatory Authority and the London Investment Banking Association.

Born in Britain, Ms Barrass grew up in New Zealand from her formative years. She obtained her a graduate degree in Economics from the University of Canterbury in Christchurch and a post-graduate degree from the Victoria University of Wellington and began her career as an Economist at the Reserve Bank of New Zealand. She then moved to the UK to attend the London School of Economics, where she was awarded an MSc.

Ms Barrass will be based in Wellington. Her three children will remain in the UK to complete their university education.

She has worked in many regulatory and executive roles in the UK and Europe.

She was the Chief Executive of the financial regulator in Gibraltar (2014-2019), a role that encompassed conduct and prudential regulatory oversight. Earlier in her career she worked for nine years in a number of roles at the Financial Services Authority in the UK (now the Financial Conduct Authority).

Strong New Zealand connection

FMA Chair Mark Todd said that Ms Barrass has a strong New Zealand connection and brings deep international regulatory experience and leadership skills to the role.

She is a proven leader and has impressive, directly relevant, regulatory experience in the UK and Europe, he said.

“She has had a very successful career, operating in a number of complex and challenging environments. Her knowledge and experience of the insurance and banking industries will be particularly relevant for the increased role the FMA is to play in those areas,” he said.

Mr Todd said that Ms Barrass successfully led the Gibraltar Financial Services Commission through a period of evolution and expansion.

“Her experience as a consensus-building leader will stand the FMA in good stead as it continues its current activities and readies itself for a wider mandate in regulating banks and insurers, as well as climate change reporting. It is also great to see a New Zealand citizen returning home to take on this important role,” he said.

Ms Barrass said that the FMA is at an important juncture in its journey to support and enhance the economy and financial health of Aotearoa New Zealand.

“It is a privilege to have the opportunity to build on the great work done by Rob Everett and the team. I am very excited to be returning home to lead the FMA in this next phase and working with all to safeguard and foster a financial sector in which everyone has a stake,” she said.

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