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UK Watchdog Restructures With All-Female Heads

Jackie Bennion, Deputy Editor, 26 February 2021

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Indicating a need to build efficiencies and take a future-fit data-led approach, the Financial Conduct Authority has appointed several female heavy hitters from across the sector as part of months of restructuring under the new CEO.

Following a decision in December to bring its policy and competition oversight into a single unit, the Financial Conduct Authority is now adding several senior female industry figures into new roles and its executive team to beef up its remit to protect consumers. The reorganisation also comes ahead of Lord Hill's review of how UK markets will respond to exiting the EU.

The agency’s head Nikhil Rathi, who joined last October, has named former BlackRock executive Stephanie Cohen as chief operating officer. Former eBay data analytics director Jessica Rusu will become the agency’s first chief data, information and intelligence officer forging relations with big tech and fintechs. Former director at the National Economic Crime Centre and commercial litigator Sarah Pritchard will become executive director for markets overseeing company behaviour. In a second newly-created post, and fourth hire, Emily Shepperd will become executive director for authorisations. Previously, she directed customer services at Aegon UK and served in leading operations roles for EMEA at Bank of New York Mellon.

The agency has come under criticism for acting too slowly on a series of savings and mis-selling scandals.

The FCA also appointed long-time staffer Clare Cole in December as director of market oversight. Part of her role will be leading the agency's response to Lord Hill’s findings. The Chancellor launched the independent review back in November for responses on how financial services rules would keep public offerings attractive after Brexit. Around 1,100 companies are listed on the main London exchange, with a market cap of around £3 trillion.

Rathi, who moved from the LSE to enforce stronger consumer protection at the watchdog, which regulates 60,000 City firms, said the new team's global experience and leadership from a variety of backgrounds "will be vital in ensuring we can act more quickly to reduce harm to consumers and ensure market integrity."

All four appointees will sit on the FCA’s executive committee and most are expected to start in June.

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