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FINMA's Chief Departs, Says Credit Suisse Crisis Hit Health

Tom Burroughes Group Editor London 7 September 2023

FINMA's Chief Departs, Says Credit Suisse Crisis Hit Health

Since serving in the role from November 2021, the CEO has seen the arrival of new regulations on EAMs, Swiss sanctions imposed on Russia and, most dramatically, the demise of its second-largest bank, Credit Suisse.

The chief executive of the Swiss financial regulator, pushed into the limelight amid the demise of Credit Suisse earlier this year, is to step down at the end of September, saying that the stress of the job has damaged his health.

Urban Angehrn, who is departing the Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority (FINMA), will be succeeded on an interim basis by deputy CEO, Birgit Rutishauser.

FINMA said it “very much regrets this decision and would like to thank Urban Angehrn for his lasting contribution to FINMA during an exceptionally challenging period.” The watchdog said it has started the hunt for a new CEO. 

Angehrn has been CEO since 1 November 2021, a period that saw Switzerland take the unprecedented step for that neutral country in slapping sanctions on Russia in 2022. The biggest challenge was the demise of Credit Suisse amid a series of scandals and management failures, leading to its takeover by UBS.

“Over the past two years, he has led the authority with professional and interpersonal competence, winning the recognition of both his staff and the sectors and institutions subject to FINMA’s supervision,” FINMA said of Angehrn.

“Challenges that were successfully overcome under his leadership include, in particular, the handling of risks resulting from the Ukraine war, the supervision of supplementary health insurance geared towards client protection and the conclusion of complex enforcement proceedings. Also under his leadership, the first thousand portfolio managers and trustees were licensed by FINMA. Finally, together with his team and in close coordination with the Federal Department of Finance and the Swiss National Bank, he was instrumental in managing the Credit Suisse crisis, the biggest challenge in FINMA’s history.”

Angehrn said the stress of the role has taken its toll. 

“Being able to contribute to the sustainable improvement of the quality of the Swiss financial centre as CEO of FINMA was a unique challenge for me, and one that I tackled with all my might. However, the high and permanent stress level had health consequences. I have considered my decision carefully and have now decided to step down,” he said.

In other developments, Angehrn’s tenure coincided with the arrival of new Swiss regulations on the country’s external asset management sector.

In July, Angehrn wrote in the Neue Zuercher Zeitung, the Swiss newspaper, that FINMA needed more powers. He wrote as the market digested the Credit Suisse story. The whole crisis, which has left Switzerland with only one universal bank, has prompted soul-searching in this famously conservative country. 

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