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The UK Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) Makes Senior Appointments To Drive Its Transformation

Date 25/02/2021

As part of its transformation programme to build a data-led regulator able to make fast and effective decisions, the FCA announced a restructure in December. This brought together two supervision divisions with the FCA’s policy and competition functions. Following rigorous and wide-ranging recruitment processes, Nikhil Rathi, Chief Executive of the FCA since October, has now made four further appointments to the FCA’s executive team:


- Stephanie Cohen will be the FCA’s Chief Operating Officer (COO). 
- Jessica Rusu will join the FCA’s as its first Chief Data, Information and Intelligence Officer (CDIIO). 
- Sarah Pritchard will become Executive Director, Markets.
- Emily Shepperd will take up the newly created role of Executive Director, Authorisations.

Nikhil Rathi, Chief Executive of the FCA, said:

'I am delighted to be welcoming Stephanie, Jessica, Sarah and Emily into the FCA to be part of our executive leadership team. They bring with them a deep understanding of the consumers we seek to protect, the markets we oversee, and all have track records for operational excellence. As we continue transforming the FCA - building a data-led regulator - their global experience and leadership, drawn from a variety of backgrounds, will be vital in ensuring we can act more quickly to reduce harm to consumers and ensure market integrity.  

'I also congratulate Clare on her appointment as Director of Market Oversight, a role she takes on at an important time for UK markets as the FCA takes forward the work of Lord Hill’s Listings Review.'

Stephanie, Jessica, Sarah and Emily will sit on the FCA’s Executive Committee, its most senior executive decision-making body. They will join Nikhil Rathi, Chief Executive; Mark Steward, Executive Director of Enforcement and Market Oversight; Megan Butler, Executive Director of Transformation; Nausicaa Delfas, Executive Director of International; Sheldon Mills, Executive Director, Consumer and Competition; Sheree Howard, Executive Director, Risk and Compliance Oversight; and Sean Martin, General Counsel.

The new executive directors and director 

Stephanie will be responsible for the FCA’s operations and business performance, systems and infrastructure, and finances. As COO, Stephanie will play a central part in the FCA’s transformation, taking the lead on operational changes to make the FCA more efficient, dynamic, and technologically driven. Stephanie grew up in Scotland, has an MA from Edinburgh University and is also a qualified accountant.

She brings over two decades of experience in large financial services firms, including 14 years at BlackRock where she was the Global COO for the active equity businesses and the Alpha Strategies division, comprising Active Equities and Fixed Income.   

Stephanie Cohen said:

'I am truly delighted to be joining the FCA at this pivotal moment. Now more than ever, the FCA has a vital role to play in protecting the interests of consumers, and I can’t wait to get started.'

As CDIIO, Jessica will lead the transformation of the FCA’s use of data, intelligence and information to effectively oversee the 60,000 firms it regulates. Jessica will evolve the FCA’s relationship with big tech companies, fintechs and the wider data science community and champion the FCA’s global Innovate agenda.

Before taking up her current role as Chief Data Officer at Chetwood Financial, a digital challenger bank, Jessica was Senior Director of Finance & Analytics at eBay in Europe where she built out their advanced analytics and customer insight function. She has also worked in credit analytics at Ford Motor Company and in stress testing at GE Capital.   

Jessica Rusu said:

'I am excited to join the FCA at this time of great transformation to leverage technology and data science to deliver innovation and excellence in regulation, to protect UK customers and help build a robust financial system. I look forward to the FCA continuing to lead in global regulatory innovation.'

Both Stephanie and Jessica will join in June. Given their interlocking remits, they and their teams will be working closely to deliver operational excellence and build the FCA’s data and intelligence analytics capabilities, and the technology and infrastructure that underpin them.

Sarah will be responsible for the delivery of the FCA’s statutory market integrity objective in the combined Supervision, Policy and Competition division. Sarah joins from the National Economic Crime Centre, where she is Director. Before joining the NECC, Sarah’s career involved stints in a range of government departments in legal and operational roles and in risk and compliance at HSBC. She trained as a commercial litigator with Decherts LLP. Sarah will join in June and will work alongside Sheldon Mills, who was appointed Executive Director, Consumers and Competition in December, in leading the Supervision, Policy and Competition division. 

Sarah Pritchard said:

'I look forward to working with Sheldon and all FCA colleagues to shape the future of financial markets regulation, ensuring that the FCA protects and enhances the integrity of the UK and global financial system.'

Emily will join the FCA in March to oversee Authorisations, which is the gateway for firms and individuals applying to undertake regulated financial services activity. Emily was most recently Director of Customer Services and Change at Aegon UK and before that EMEA COO for Bank of New York Mellon. During her time at BNY Mellon, Emily chaired AFME’s technology and operations group.  

Emily Shepperd said:

'I am excited to be joining the FCA at such a crucial time for financial services in the UK. I look forward to helping ensure both UK markets and consumers are protected.'

As Director of Market Oversight, Clare is responsible for team overseeing the conduct of participants in the primary and secondary markets through the listing, prospectus and market abuse regimes. Clare has been acting director since December and has worked at the FCA since 2003.