investor daily logo
New APRA chair appointed

New APRA chair appointed

3 minute read

A number of new appointments have been made at the regulator.

Current Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA) deputy chair John Lonsdale will take over the role of chair at the prudential regulator from the end of the month following the departure of Wayne Byres. 

Treasurer Jim Chalmers announced the new appointment on Friday alongside naming current APRA member Margaret Cole as new deputy chair and APRA executive directors Suzanne Smith and Therese McCarthy Hockey as new APRA members.

Under his leadership, Mr Lonsdale said that APRA will remain focused on fulfilling its mandate and ensuring that Australia has a strong and resilient financial system.

“As chair, I want to ensure APRA continues to effectively protect the financial wellbeing of the Australian community with a strong and stable financial system that underpins the functioning of the economy,” he said.

Serving as a deputy chair since 2018, Mr Lonsdale has been responsible for APRA’s regulation of banks as well as building its crisis resolution capability and strengthening its collaboration with peer regulators.

He was previously a deputy secretary in the Australian Treasury with responsibility for the financial system and consumer and foreign investment policy and helped shape Australia’s current regulatory system as head of the Secretariat of the Financial System Inquiry in 2014.

“The challenges in front of us are significant — a rapidly shifting macro-economic environment, rapid technological development that challenge business models and regulation, cyber threats, insurance affordability pressures, climate change and improving the performance of our superannuation system, to name a few,” Mr Lonsdale noted.

He said that the regulator has a sound strategy in place which has been developed to respond to current challenges and emerging issues in the financial system.

Meanwhile, APRA confirmed that Ms Cole will continue to oversee its activities in the superannuation industry after she becomes a deputy chair. She was previously PwC’s UK chief risk officer and general counsel and worked for the UK Financial Services Authority.

Ms Smith will be responsible for APRA’s activities in life insurance and private health insurance and Ms McCarthy Hockey will oversee its activities in banking. Current deputy chair Helen Rowell will be responsible for APRA’s activities in general insurance.

Mr Byres announced his intention to step down as chair of the prudential regulator in July.

“I am very pleased to be handing over the reins of APRA to one of Australia’s most experienced, capable and committed financial services regulators,” he said.

“Throughout his extensive 30-year career at Australian Treasury and over the past four years at APRA as deputy chair, John has made a significant contribution to the stability, efficiency and competitiveness of the Australian financial system.”

Additionally, Mr Byres congratulated Ms Cole, Ms Smith and Ms McCarthy Hockey on their appointments, which he said show the strength and expertise of the APRA leadership team.

“I also want to acknowledge Helen’s significant contribution to APRA over the past 20 years, including two terms as an APRA member, during which she led important superannuation industry reforms before moving to more recently oversee APRA’s insurance activities,” he added.

The Treasurer said that the new appointments will bring “the best available mix of experience and fresh thinking” to the regulator and promote more women to key positions.

“The appointments will mean four of the five members of the regulator’s board are women,” Dr Chalmers noted.

On behalf of the government, the Treasurer thanked Mr Byres for his dedication and leadership during his eight-year tenure as APRA chair.

“Mr Byres has made an outstanding contribution to Australia, including through his work to help ensure the stability of the financial system during the COVID‑19 pandemic,” he said.