Verena Ross is in a nearly 30-year regulatory career that began in the UK as Executive Director of the EU’s new market regulator in 2011 and before bringing her to mainland Europe as its Chairman in 2021. , struggles to point to the most difficult times.

Was it her first days in Paris, trying to lead the EU’s markets through an unprecedented sovereign debt crisis while the European Securities and Markets Authority expanded from 35 start-ups?

Or was it when the Covid-19 pandemic hit and Ross had to face the same practical problems as leaders of other organizations?

She can’t really say, and she clearly hasn’t given her much time to think about it. A good time may be ahead of her.

By maintaining good day-to-day relationships with UK regulators and leading a politically explosive debate over where trades destined for the EU market should be cleared or brokered, Esma It has the enviable task of dealing with the impact from Brexit. Her LCH in the UK and Euronext, the pan-European stock market operator.

Ross’ 300-strong institution is also one of the flag-bearers of the European Capital Markets Union programme. This is a grand but so far elusive political project to replicate the US achievement of diverting trillions of dollars from households and savers into corporate-issued bonds and stocks. of all shapes and sizes.

Esma is currently trying to set policies in some of the most complex areas of the traditional market, but it’s notable for sustainability, which is leading the push for transparency, and crypto, which will soon assume responsibility for overseeing direct parts. It has made its mark in new areas such as currency. of European industry.

“One of the challenges of these jobs is how wide they are. You never know where the next problem will come from, so you need to know the permissions going on,” she says. “But there is clearly a need to prioritize among them . . . the core themes are everywhere, all the time.”

In October, Esma unveiled its 5-year strategy, which, in addition to its traditional framework of fostering effective markets and maintaining financial stability, will focus on achieving sustainable finance, innovation and the use of data. Fulfilled modern frameworks such as promotion.

The 54-year-old tries not to dig as deep into the weeds as her natural instincts lead her, and is not the technical expert she once was in her early career as an analyst at the Bank of England. remembering She’s also conscious of “no brains” over her successor as Esma’s director, Natasha Kaznave, whom she enthusiastically admires. She says her new job as chairman is “completely different” from her previous job.

“I am really focused on chairing the board, setting the agenda, driving the strategy and driving the vision of where we want to go. I focus a lot,” she says. .

Esma must balance EU and Member State priorities with the regulator’s primary objective of protecting the European market. A once obscure part of the market infrastructure that has come to symbolize the EU’s attempt to cut ties with London’s financial center, the clearing has seen his two rulers of Ross clash. He seems to be one of those areas.

EU politicians, led by Financial Services Commissioner Mairead McGuinness, have stressed that liquidation must move from London, where most of it now takes place, to the EU. In April, McGuinness likened the situation to cutting the EU’s overreliance on energy from Russia, and comments suggested that a complete surrender of London would do nothing but satisfy Brussels. The financial services industry, from London to Frankfurt to Paris, argues that moving wholesale payments out of the UK capital would increase both risks and costs.

“Our approach is to identify where areas of overdependence are. [on London], is a particular systemic risk that we need to address,” says Ross. “It is important to make sure the European Union has options, not either or both. [between London and the EU] . . . I think the key thing is the strong clearing infrastructure in Europe and the potential for clearing in Europe for these systematic instruments and services. “

For now, London continues to conduct most of the EU liquidation, and Ross says his day-to-day relationship with UK authorities is “pretty good.” Is there anything that can be done to make the relationship even better? Not for us to really comment. Six years on from the Brexit vote, she has adopted this approach, but having spent her formative years in London, she finds the UK’s decision “very sad”. explained.

The regulator, who studied China and economics at London’s School of Oriental and African Studies, is equally diplomatic about the Capital Markets Union, claiming “significant steps have been taken”, but the notion is He admits that it can be “difficult to understand.” average person.

From the financial crisis to Brexit to Covid, many of the issues that made headlines during Ross’ time at Esma were ones her agency had to deal with. Sustainability and crypto regulation present an opportunity for Ross and her team to be at the forefront.

Esma has spearheaded the fight against greenwashing, including last year’s development of the European Framework for Sustainability Disclosure.

Ross believes her institution, one of many investigating climate change issues in the financial services sector, “has an important role to play.” . . given the ‘huge demand’ for eco-friendly products, it’s ultimately about helping retail investors understand what they’re buying.

“It’s not easy, because it’s a very evolving situation with lots of laws being enacted in rapid succession,” says Ross. Esma is also constrained as it is “not a direct supervisor” and must rely on national authorities to follow its guidance, as Esma does in many of its operations.

Esma has been publicly warning European investors over the past few years about the dangers of investing money in cryptocurrencies. Europe’s new digital asset law, Mica, will give Roth’s agency a more direct role by mandating it to establish a comprehensive framework for crypto regulation, while Esma is Europe’s largest Plans to license directly to crypto service providers were ultimately shelved.

3 Questions for Verena Ross

Who are your leadership heroes?

no one. I learned a lot from the people I worked with. And I learned different things from each person. . . Leadership is very personal.

If you weren’t the leader/chairman, what would you like to be?

I wanted to become an archaeologist. So I studied archeology for half a year, but I was a little worried that garbage would accumulate in the museum.

What was your first leadership lesson?

As you transition from technical expert to leader, you should resist the temptation to dig deep. You don’t have to be a technical expert to ask the right questions and listen to the experts’ answers properly, although you need to be well-informed.

Ross is no stranger to breaking new ground in finance. When she was appointed as Esma’s leader, it was still unusual enough for a woman to take on such a role at the hearings, with parliamentarians describing her as “sweet and tender.” That was it.

By the time she is appointed as Chair in 2021, the world has changed, joining the ranks of women leading large financial institutions such as Christine Lagarde of the European Central Bank and Elke Koenig of the Single Resolutions Committee of the Eurozone. fulfilled. She recognizes that gender is “something that people take into account when making certain choices” and is cautious about the role it has played in her life.

“I hope I managed to get to that position. [I’m in]It’s not just because I’m a woman, but also because I have certain experiences and knowledge that people appreciate and believe I can do the job,” she says.

“Being recognized as a female leader is not my first motivation,” she later added when asked about her hopes for her legacy. To be a fair and inclusive leader who does his best.”

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