The chief executive officer of Hong Kong’s Securities Futures Commission (SFC) and former head of Asia at Herbert Smith Freehills, Ashley Alder, has stepped down from his decade-long role to join the U.K.’s flagship financial regulator, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).
Alder’s term at the SFC will cease in September and the Hong Kong regulator has commenced its search for a successor. Alder is expected to take up his FCA role for a term of five years in January 2023 and will succeed Richard Lloyd who has served as interim Chair, according to an FCA statement.
Lloyd was appointed in June after former Slaughter and May partner, Charles Randell, stepped down as the FCA chair in May, a year before the official end of his five-year term.
Under his leadership, the SFC put in place reforms to boost financial growth in the city, the most important being the listing reforms in 2018, which allowed listings from New Economy companies with weighted-voting rights and pre-revenue biotech companies, as well as secondary listings of overseas-listed Chinese companies.
He also introduced tighter controls to deal with on rampant “shell activities” involving backdoor structures.
Alder also worked on the Stock Connect schemes, a cross-boundary investment channel that connects the stock exchanges in Hong Kong, Shanghai and Shenzhen. Last year, he also helped develop a Wealth Management Connect scheme, which enables residents in Hong Kong, Macao and nine cities in Guangdong Province to carry out cross-boundary investment in wealth management products.
Alder joined the SFC in 2011 from legacy Herbert Smith, where he led the Asia practice. In private practice, he specialised in M&A and equity capital market, and regulatory and compliance matters.
Alder has lived in Hong Kong for over two decades. He joined Herbert Smith in 1984 and made partner a decade later. He left the firm for a four year stint as an appointed board member and executive director of SFC’s corporate finance division, rejoining the firm in 2004.
In 2019, the SFC announced that Alder planned to step down in September 2020 but he later agreed to stay on for three more years.
“I owe a debt of gratitude to all who have contributed to the evolution of the SFC into an organisation which is acknowledged globally as one of a handful of world-class market regulators,” Alder said in a statement. “The policies and reforms we have put in place are now firmly embedded and institutionalised, and my successor will inherit a solid and effective regulatory framework which underpins Hong Kong’s success as an international financial centre,” he added.
HSF was contacted for comment.