People Moves

Swiss Regulator Names Ex-ECB Figure As New Chief Executive

Tom Burroughes Group Editor 25 January 2024

Swiss Regulator Names Ex-ECB Figure As New Chief Executive

The new chief will lead the regulator almost a year after the UBS-Credit Suisse merger, and as Switzerland continues to develop rules for digital assets, and watches to see how its new rules for external asset managers pan out.

The Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority has named a former European Central Bank senior figure, Stefan Walter, as new chief executive. He is taking over the role from interim CEO Birgit Rutishauser.

The previous full-time CEO, Urban Angehrn, left the job last year because the stress of handling the Credit Suisse crisis had affected his health. 

Rutishauser will remain FINMA’s interim CEO until 31 March; Walter will take up the role from the following date.

Walter, who has also worked at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, comes into FINMA at a time when Switzerland has ended up with just one universal bank following last year’s "shotgun wedding" between UBS and Credit Suisse. Last year, new rules governing external asset managers also took force. The country is also continuing to wrestle with how to best regulate the digital assets/cryptos space.

Walter, a German national, has been ECB director general since 2014. Initially, he supervised systemically important eurozone banks and led that division for six years. From 2020 he was responsible for horizontal risk supervision at the ECB. This encompassed all categories of risk, in particular credit and liquidity risks, as well as developing and conducting stress tests. 

Before his time at the ECB, Walter was global bank regulatory and supervisory policy network leader for EY for two years. Walter has also served in various roles at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

“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. “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.”

The appointment puts Walter in charge of an organisation employing an average of 549 employees, across 478 temporary and permanent full-time equivalent positions, according to figures from 2020 (the last time FINMA updated this figure).

FINMA headquarters in Berne.

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