Samantha Barrass to be Financial Markets Authority chief executive

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Samantha Barrass will be the next chief executive of the Financial Markets Authority Te Mana Tātai Hokohoko.

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Samantha Barrass will be the next chief executive of the Financial Markets Authority Te Mana Tātai Hokohoko.

New Zealand’s financial watchdog has hired ex-pat Kiwi Samantha Barrass​ to be its chief executive.

The Financial Markets Authority (FMA) Te Mana Tātai Hokohoko announced on Monday that Barrass would replace current chief executive Rob Everett,​ who has led the regulator since 2014.

Barrass’ previous roles overseas included working for the Financial Services Authority in the United Kingdom, and as chief executive of the financial regulator in Gibraltar.

Her latest job was to set up the UK’s Business Banking Resolution Service, a service designed to resolve disputes between banks and their business customers.

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FMA chairman Mark Todd​ said: “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.”

Barrass had also held senior roles at the UK Solicitors Regulatory Authority, and the London Investment Banking Association, Todd said.

She graduated from economics from the University of Canterbury in Christchurch, and completed post-graduate study at Victoria University of Wellington.

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FMA director of regulation Liam Mason discusses the 2020 KiwiSaver annual report.

She began her career as an economist at the Reserve Bank of New Zealand Te Pūtea Matua before completing a master’s degree at the London School of Economics.

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

“She 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.”

Barrass took up her role at the UK’s Business Banking Resolution Service after leaving her job as chief executive officer of the financial regulator in Gibraltar a year before here term was due to end.

In August 2020, Gibraltar media reported Barrass had reached a settlement with the Gibraltar Financial Services Commission (GFSC), and had withdrawn a claim she had taken to Gibraltar’s Employment Tribunal.

The FMA said: “The details of this matter are confidential, but the FMA board was aware from the outset and considered it an important part of its due diligence process. We are completely confident that this raises no issues of concern.”

Gibraltar media has also reported on an ongoing libel lawsuit taken against the GFSC and Barrass as a result of statements the GFSC put out about failed insurer Enterprise Insurance, which collapsed in 2016.

The FMA said: “The FMA board carefully considered the context of the defamation case and regarded it as an occupational risk associated with a high profile regulatory role of this type.”

Todd said: “On a personal note, it’s also great to see a New Zealand citizen returning home to take on this important role.”

Barrass, who will be based in Wellington, said: “It’s a privilege to have the opportunity to build on the great work done by Rob Everett and the team. I’m 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 that everyone has a stake in.”

She would take up her role in January.

Current chief executive Rob Everett leaves at the end of October.

After Everett’s departure, the FMA’s general counsel Liam Mason will briefly be acting chief executive until Barrass takes her seat at the regulator.

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