Ashley Alder, the newly appointed chief executive of the Securities and Futures Commission, has vowed to help Hong Kong become the leading financial centre. Alder (pictured), a lawyer specialising in capital markets, mergers and acquisitions, regulation and compliance, is no stranger to the SFC. Between 2001 and 2004, he was executive director at the financial regulator's corporate finance division. The appointment comes at a time when Hong Kong is forging closer economic ties with the mainland and seeking to become an offshore centre for the trading of yuan, which is yet to be a fully convertible currency. The Hong Kong securities regulator has also resisted plans to allow mainland accounting firms to audit the books of Chinese companies listed in the city amid concerns investor protections cannot be enforced. A former SFC director who worked with Alder at the financial regulator believes he has what it takes when it comes to the tricky issue of dealing with the mainland officials and the Hong Kong government. 'He[Alder] got on well with the enforcement department,' said the former SFC director. 'I think he'll make the listing procedure more user-friendly. He is in a good position to balance both ends [client interest and investors' protection].' Alder, who officially starts his new job today, said he wished to head back to the public sector once again to make a 'positive contribution' after more than two decades of working with private law firms. Referring to criticisms from the press and the public, Alder - a senior partner with international law firm Herbert Smith before taking up the baton at the SFC - said: 'I am not entering into a popularity contest.' Both the SFC and the banking regulator the Hong Kong Monetary Authority were under fire for the Lehman Brothers minibond debacle in which retail investors lost their entire savings in complex credit derivative products they bought at Hong Kong banks and securities firms, leading to long-standing public protests and marches. Alder said his approach would not be significantly different from that of his predecessor Martin Wheatley, who now heads the consumer and markets business unit at the financial regulator in Britain, one of the epicentres of the euro-zone debt contagion. The SFC would monitor and react to the 'second phase' of the financial crisis although Alder counted that as just one of the 'sheer volume of issues' that he had to grapple with.