The Challenge

In 2021 Hobson Leavy partnered with the Financial Markets Authority (FMA) – Te Mana Tātai Hokohoko  – helping to appoint its next Chief Executive. The FMA plays a critical role in regulating capital markets and financial services in Aotearoa New Zealand. As an independent Crown entity, it is the principal public agency charged with regulating the conduct of participants in New Zealand’s capital markets. Together with the Reserve Bank of New Zealand (RBNZ), the FMA forms the “dual pillars of New Zealand” financial sector regulation.

The incoming Chief Executive would be an influential and strategic leader who was either a seasoned chief executive or ready to step up to their first CE role. We were aware there would be a challenge to find an individual with such niche and specialised experience.

Our approach and success

Hobson Leavy conducted an extensive national and international search, targeting relevant individuals in financial markets and regulatory bodies. We sought individuals who demonstrated strong leadership skills and proven experience within a highly regulated environment. The FMA and Hobson Leavy were delighted to appoint Ms. Samantha Barrass to the role of CE. Ms. Barrass brings deep international regulatory experience and has worked in a range of executive roles in the UK, Europe and New Zealand. Between 2014 and 2019, Ms Barrass was also based in Gibraltar as Chief Executive Officer of the Gibraltar Financial Services Commission leading it through a critical period of expansion and evolution. She has most recently been based in the UK and will return to New Zealand to join the FMA.

The Financial Markets Authority and Hobson Leavy have worked together for over 10 years helping to appoint numerous Senior Leadership Roles. These have included General Counsel, Director of People & Capability, Head of Strategic Intelligence, two previous CE roles and many more.

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