The Association for Financial Markets in Europe, an influential lobby group for London’s largest financial services firms, appointed Goldman Sachs’ banker Thalia Chryssikou as its first female chair.
Chryssikou has headed Goldman’s global strats and structuring division in London since 2017. She will replace Michael Cole-Fontayn who is stepping down after six years as chair at AFME, which counts City giants including Goldman, JPMorgan and BlackRock amongst its members.
The appointment comes as London’s financial services firms are turning to lobby groups such as AFME to help them navigate the combined headaches of the UK’s split from the European Union and the pandemic. Lobbyists in both the UK and EU are advocating for the interests of London and European financial centres as policymakers on both sides review several key tenets of their finance rulebooks in a bid to capitalise on Brexit. The Covid-19 crisis has also sparked UK government-backed reviews in flexible working and management of the post-pandemic economic recovery.
Adam Farkas, the chief executive of AFME, said, in a statement seen by Financial News that Chryssikou “brings a wealth of knowledge from her over 20-year career in financial services and technology at Goldman Sachs that equips her to lead the AFME Board as we emerge from the Covid-19 pandemic”.
“She is also a passionate advocate of supporting female talent, which is a priority for AFME and the financial services industry as a whole,” he said.
Farkas added that Cole-Fontayn had been “been a very engaged and committed chair” and a strong supporter of Europe’s capital markets, having passionately promoted the “E” in AFME” during his time at the lobby group.
Cole-Fontayn, who was chairman of custody and investment management giant BNY Mellon’s European business for more than 30 years before stepping down from that role in 2017, said it had “been a true pleasure and honour to serve the AFME Board” during a period of time in which “Europe’s capital markets have faced unprecedented challenges from Brexit and the Covid-19 pandemic”.
Chryssikou, who has appeared three times on FN’s annual list of the 100 most influential women in European finance, said she was “honoured to be taking up the role of chair at AFME at such a pivotal time”.
“The enormous potential for transformation of the European economy through digitalisation and decarbonisation will require unprecedented levels of investment and finance,” she said. “AFME has a key role to play in helping to shape European financial regulation to promote deep and integrated capital markets to serve the needs of companies and investors in this task. I look forward to acting on behalf of all our members to enable our financial markets to rise to this challenge.”
Prior to her role as Goldman’s head of global strats and structuring, Chryssikou had stints leading the US bank’s European interest rate product sales unit, and managing its European macro sales strats and structuring team, where she was responsible for client strategies and solutions. From 2004 to 2007, she was head of Goldman Sachs’ pensions and insurance strat group focusing on asset liability management.
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