Julia Hoggett hasn’t had the easiest exit on the 220-year-old London Stock Exchange.
She took over as chief executive in April 2021, managing the continued impact of the pandemic. Just as it began to decline, inflation and a major land war in Europe turned the markets upside down and unleashed massive volatility.
Fortunately, Hoggett is no stranger to crises. As regulator of the Financial Conduct Authority from 2014 to 2021, she handled the fallout from the Libor and currency manipulation scandals that rocked the City and implicated major global banks. Her tenure at the watchdog also saw her address the risks of Brexit after the 2016 vote.
Now at LSE’s offices north of St Paul’s Cathedral, he says these events have given him the tools and experience to deal with future disasters.
“My career has been marked by crisis management,” he tells Financial News. “You don’t necessarily want to have had all these experiences, but they become very valuable. I didn’t see these events that we had to navigate as very different from the playbook that I’ve used throughout my career.”
Russia’s war with Ukraine prompted the UK government to implement major financial sanctions, in concert with other major Western powers including the US, Canada and the EU. The LSE, in turn, suspended trading in several Russian stocks.
When it comes to sanctions, “it takes a pretty disciplined and diligent process” to comply, he says.
TO READ LSE boss Julia Hoggett: Capital markets seen as ‘allowing bankers to drive Lamborghinis’
Bigger change is on the horizon for the UK financial system as the government reshapes the foundations for a post-Brexit future. The government has spent the past two years consulting with the financial sector through various reviews on issues ranging from cleanup and dark pools to regulatory targets. Finally, he introduced the long-awaited Financial Markets and Services Bill on 20 July.
Hoggett welcomes the change the bill will bring. “One of the challenges I had as a regulator is that it’s very difficult for regulation to be at the forefront of an evolution,” he says. “This is a change of pace. It has the potential to create a more nimble regulatory environment.”
Taking a page from his former FCA boss Andrew Bailey, he notes that effective, vibrant, deep and liquid markets “are the ones most likely to produce the best behaviour”. He adds: “When you have a vibrant economy that’s growing and a market that serves it, you’re likely to get the best results.”
Hoggett is looking to make the most of UK financial reform. She will chair the newly formed UK Capital Markets Industry Taskforce alongside City notables such as Freshfields partner Mark Austin, who recently completed the secondary capital raising review, and Kay Swinburne, vice president of financial services at KPMG and former MEP. . The group will “maximize the impact of capital market reforms,” it says. Hoggett believes the task force can achieve things that regulators alone cannot and is supported by chancellor Nadhim Zahawi.
“Not all changes in capital markets need to occur through regulation alone. Institutions operating within capital markets also have some agency.”
The private sector must help keep UK markets competitive, he says, because of the key role it plays in the real economy.
TO READ Head of the London Stock Exchange: “It shouldn’t be easier to invest in crypto than in capital markets”
“Capital markets are designed to drive the real economy,” he says. “They are designed to direct funding to new products, innovations, jobs and factories in the form of debt, financing schools, hospitals and roads, creating the assets that make our pensions, our policyholders and savers really the returns they need for the kind of life they want to lead. That’s what capital markets do.”
One of its goals is to improve retail access to markets. While UK capital markets have grown, direct retail ownership has been shrinking for decades. The value of shares in UK-domiciled companies listed on the LSE rose from £1.97 billion to £2.17 billion between 2018 and 2020, but the value of individual property has remained stable at around £261 billion. Individual share ownership on the LSE fell to 12% in 2020 from 13.3% in 2018; in 1963, more than half of the shares listed on the LSE were owned by UK residents.
Various factors including red tape and lack of consumer focus have stifled retail investors. Hoggett is eager to get regular people back into the stock market, noting that it’s often easier for consumers to buy cryptocurrency than invest in stocks.
She says addressing these issues is something the financial industry can’t leave to regulators alone. “Ensuring that retail is properly franchised and addressing the challenge of digitization are things that we as an industry can have much greater agency to do.”
His role is widely recognised, earning him Industry Personality of the Year at the FN Business and Technology Awards this year.
Hoggett, the first openly gay person to hold the post of chief executive of the LSE, has changed the outlook of the LGBTQ+ community and served as a trailblazer for women. It was during her first job at JPMorgan that she came out, and Hoggett believes that being openly gay may have helped her, giving her the ability to sidestep traditional gender norms in a male-dominated industry.
“I was able and allowed to be a little different, possibly more easily than my straight colleagues. This may be why it has been easier for me to navigate my career. It also makes me think that I have the absolute duty to say so.”
He recognizes that just because he’s held one of the most senior roles in finance doesn’t mean the push for inclusion and diversity is over.
“Sometimes holding myself up as an example of diversity can be evidence that we haven’t solved it yet, rather than that we have,” he says. “One of the duties and privileges of these types of roles is to collect and do everything possible to support the next generation of women.”
Degree in Social and Political Sciences, University of Oxford
Director of Market Supervision, FCA
Head of Wholesale Banking Supervision, FCA
Managing Director of Bank of America Merrill Lynch
Various charges, Depfa Bank
Various charges, JPMorgan
To contact the author of this story with comments or news, please email Jeremy Chan