October 6, 2021 – New Zealand executive search firm Hobson Leavy has placed Samantha Barrass as chief executive officer for the Financial Markets Authority (FMA), a regulatory government agency in New Zealand. Ms. Barrass will assume her new role in January, subject to COVID-19 concerns.
The FMA’s current CEO, Rob Everett, steps down at the end of October. FMA general counsel Liam Mason will be acting chief executive during the months prior to Ms. Barrass’ arrival.
FMA chair Mark Todd said Ms. Barrass has a strong New Zealand connection and brings deep international regulatory experience and leadership skills to the role. “Ms. Barrass has had a very successful career to date, operating in a number of complex and challenging environments,” he 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.” Ms. Barrass has worked in a range of regulatory and executive roles in the U.K. and Europe. Between 2014 and 2019, she was CEO of the financial regulator in Gibraltar. The role encompassed conduct and prudential regulatory oversight. Earlier in her career Ms. Barrass worked for nine years in a number of roles at the Financial Services Authority in the U.K. (now the Financial Conduct Authority).
Most recently, Ms. Barrass led the establishment of the U.K.’s Business Banking Resolution Service, an innovative service designed to resolve disputes between banks and their business customers. She has also held senior roles at the U.K. Solicitors Regulatory Authority and the London Investment Banking Association.
After graduating in economics from the University of Canterbury in Christchurch and completing post-graduate study at Victoria University of Wellington, Ms. Barrass began her career as an economist at the Reserve Bank of New Zealand. She then moved to the U.K. to attend the London School of Economics, where she was awarded a master’s degree.
“We are delighted to have secured Ms. Barrass for this role,” Mr. Todd said. “She is a proven leader and has impressive, directly relevant, regulatory experience in the U.K. and Europe. 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. On a personal note, it’s also great to see a New Zealand citizen returning home to take on this important role.”
Ms. Barrass said the FMA is at an important juncture in its journey to support and enhance the economy and financial health of New Zealand. “It’s a privilege to have the opportunity to build on the great work done by Rob Everett and the team,” she said. “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.”
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The Financial Markets Authority oversees and enforces securities, financial reporting, and company law as they apply to financial services and securities markets in New Zealand. The agency also regulates securities exchanges, financial advisers and brokers, trustees and issuers. The organization works to promote and facilitate the development of fair, efficient and transparent financial markets. The FMA was established in 2011.
A Range of Access
Hobson Leavy, founded in 2006 by Carrie Hobson and Stephen Leavy, focuses on CEO and executive-level and non-executive director appointments across all sectors in New Zealand. The firm has completed searches in sectors ranging from agriculture to wealth management. It has offices in Auckland and Wellington.
Ms. Hobson has over 25 years of corporate experience, initially in banking and finance and later in executive search. She has held senior positions in corporate banking with major banks in both New Zealand and the U.S. and has worked with top-level executives optimizing financial performance and implementing company strategy. She has held directorships in both the private and public sectors, with particular expertise in finance, health and human resources. Prior to Hobson Leavy, Ms. Hobson was a partner with another New Zealand executive search firm.
Mr. Leavy has extensive international experience in senior-level executive recruitment. He began his career as a solicitor with New Zealand law firm Russell McVeagh. He then moved to London where he joined professional services recruitment firm Quarry Dougall, becoming an associate director. He remained with the firm after its acquisition by Nasdaq-listed TMP Worldwide. Mr. Leavy later returned to New Zealand and was a partner with another leading New Zealand executive search firm before co-founding Hobson Leavy.
Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; and Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media