New FCA chair 'unlikely to do a good job', says MP

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New FCA chair 'unlikely to do a good job', says MP
Incoming FCA chair Ashley Alder was scrutinised by MPs this morning
ByRuby Hinchliffe

MPs have accused the Financial Conduct Authority’s incoming chair of having a “very slim” understanding of the country’s scrutiny system and reckon his lifelong career in Hong Kong means he is “unlikely” to do a good job in the UK.

Ashley Alder, who is currently chief executive of Hong Kong’s regulator, was announced as the next chair of the FCA back in July. He will step down from the Securities and Futures Commission at the end of this month and start in his FCA chair role on February 20.

It just seems to me that somebody who spent their entire career in Hong Kong is very unlikely to have the corporate memory or background or understanding of UK markets to be able to do a good job. Andrea Leadsom, Treasury Select Committee

The Treasury Select Committee scrutinised Alder’s appointment who attended the hearing remotely today (December 14). 

MP Andrea Leadsom said she found it “extraordinary” that Alder did not attend the hearing in person. 

“For somebody who has spent their entire career in Hong Kong, and is not able or willing to make it to the UK to appear before a scrutiny committee for a pre-appointment hearing. I just wonder, what do you think is the point of scrutiny committees in the UK?” said Leadsom. 

Alder, who had previously said Hong Kong travel restrictions - which were lifted yesterday (December 13) - prevented his attending in person, replied: “Well as far as I understand it, it’s to ensure the person who is being selected is suitable for the post.”

Leadsom questioned the breadth of Alder’s answer, before he added: “In order to do that, obviously it’s open to you to ask any questions you think appropriate.”

The South Northamptonshire MP then pressed Alder for a third term, asking him to define the Select Committee’s role more broadly.

He said: “It’s very important. It’s the main interface between the FCA, including its chair and CEO, with parliament. Obviously parliament sets the remit of the FCA. The FCA and its board set the strategy within that remit. So the interaction the FCA has with the Treasury Committee is very important.”

Leadsom said this was “not exactly” what the Treasury Select Committee does. She then asked him if he knew who sat on the committee, and how many there were in the UK. 

Alder said it was cross-party, but did not name members and did not know the number of committees.