Financial Market

Swiss Financial Regulators Make ECB Man New Chief

The Swiss financial regulators FINMA announced Wednesday that European Central Bank director-general Stefan Walter will become their new chief executive.

The Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority has been looking for a new CEO since September when Urban Angehrn stepped down for health reasons, six months after the implosion and rescue of Credit Suisse bank.

After conducting a “broad search”, FINMA turned to Walter, 59 and a German national, who has been the ECB director-general since 2014.

Walter will take over on April 1. The Swiss government ratified the appointment on Wednesday.

“FINMA is gaining an experienced leader in Stefan Walter with a wealth of international financial market experience in banking supervision,” Marlene Amstad, chair of FINMA’s board of directors, said in a statement.

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“Particularly his knowledge in the area of large bank supervision and his links to international supervisory authorities will be a great asset for FINMA’s supervision of the systemically important Swiss banks.”

She said Walter would bolster and lead FINMA’s efforts “to achieve effective supervision and regulation of the Swiss financial market”.

Switzerland was shaken last year by the collapse of Credit Suisse, the country’s second-biggest bank. To avoid its bankruptcy, the Swiss authorities, FINMA included, strongarmed the Alpine nation’s largest bank UBS into a takeover of its rival.

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At the ECB, Walter was initially responsible for the supervision of systemic banks in the eurozone, FINMA said.

Later his duties included overseeing all categories of risk, in particular credit and liquidity risks, as well as developing and conducting stress tests.

Before that, Walter was the secretary general of the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision from 2006 to 2011. He coordinated international negotiations on regulatory reforms during the global financial crisis.


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