Ireland: The Central Bank’s French Connection


By Paula L Green

When he took over as deputy governor for financial regulation at the Central Bank of Ireland on the first of October, Frenchman Cyril Roux began working alongside a Swedish colleague, Stefan Gerlach, who was appointed deputy governor for central banking in September 2011, as well as another Swede, Lars Frisell, who left the Swedish Financial Supervisory Authority in January 2010 to join the Irish central bank as chief economist.

The Irish appear intent on hiring financial regulators from within Europe to help them untangle the financial quagmire that left their banking system and economy in a shambles nearly five years ago.

Roux was a top regulator at L’Autorité de Contrôle Prudentiel (ACPR), the agency regulating banks and insurers in France. He has replaced another European import, British financial supervisor Matthew Elderfield, who had been in the role since January 2010. Elderfield is slated to join Lloyds Group in London.

The new financial watchdog is being paid handsomely to steer the troubled Irish financial system back onto a steady course. Roux will be pulling in $410,500 a year—which is nonetheless about $40,000 less than Elderfield was being paid, a reflection of the Irish government’s recent move to curb public-sector pay.

Roux brings extensive regulatory experience to the five-year post. He has been first deputy secretary general of ACPR since the agency’s creation in March 2010 and previously was deputy secretary general of the French insurance regulatory authority that was merged into ACPR, along with a banking agency.

Roux also has valuable private-sector experience. He worked with the AXA insurance group for a decade in various positions, including an auditing slot and as chief operating officer of its structured finance division. He honed his international finance skills during a three-year post with the French Treasury in the mid-1990s as deputy bureau chief for insurance companies, with responsibility for European and international negotiations.

Despite his experience, Roux has his work cut out for him. Irish banks are still wrestling with high levels of nonperforming loans nearly five years after the 2008 real estate bubble collapse led to a banking crisis, which led to a state takeover, which led to a bailout. Sound familiar?