The long-serving head of Hong Kong’s financial services is the leading candidate to become the next chairman of the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).

Sky News has learned that Ashley Alder, who has led the Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) since 2011, has been in talks to take over from Charles Rendell, who left the City regulator earlier this year.

It was unclear on Thursday whether Mr Alder had formally accepted the FCA chairmanship or whether the appointment could be delayed due to the turmoil surrounding Boris Johnson resigns as Prime Minister.

Mr. Alder, however, would be a top-notch choice for the role.

Steeped in the details of global financial regulation, he has led the SFC since 2011 and also chairs the International Organization of Securities Commissions (IOSCO).

His current term at the SFC ends next September, although it is likely that if he is appointed to the FCA role, he will leave the Hong Kong regulator before that date.

The Chair of the FCA is appointed by the Treasury and usually requires the approval of both the Chancellor and the Prime Minister.

This week’s crisis in Westminster has affected both Rishi Sunak, the chancellor, and John Glenn, the City minister, to step down from their roles in protest against Mr Johnson’s leadership.

Nadhim Zahavi, former Secretary of Education, was appointed as Mr. Sunac’s successoralthough he also called on the prime minister to resign on Thursday morning.

Ashley Alder

The FCA’s leadership is one of the most important functions in economic regulation in Britain, with the watchdog responsible for overseeing tens of thousands of companies.

The FCA is taking a tougher approach to how firms treat customers as the cost of living crisis deepens, as well as tackling issues such as the rapid rise of cryptocurrencies and the proliferation of buy-now-pay-later credit providers.

Under Nikhil Rathi, the company has also struggled with internal conflicts amid FCA employee complaints about their pay.

In 2020, Mr Alder was shortlisted for the role of chief executive of the FCA, before Mr Rathi won the role.

Mr Rendell’s departure from the FCA – a year before his term ends – was announced last October.

The City has been heavily criticized for its oversight of London Capital & Finance, the failed mini-bond issuer, and has grappled with major challenges surrounding the regulation of cryptocurrencies and buy-now, pay-later loan providers.

After Mr Rendell’s departure, Richard Lloyd, who ran Which? for five years until 2016, he took up the position of interim chairman of the FCA.

The appointment of a long-term successor will make the FCA the latest in a series of key economic regulators in the UK to receive new leadership.

In recent months, the Competition and Markets Authority, the Financial Reporting Council, Ofcom and Ofwat have emerged as new leaders.

The Ministry of Finance declined to comment.

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