Former SBE Dean lands top EU regulatory job

Professor Steven Maijoor

Professor Steven Maijoor, former Dean of the Maastricht University School of Business and Economics (SBE), has been appointed chair of the European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA). This is the major EU financial services regulator that came into being on 1 January 2011. As ESMA chair, Maijoor will be one of the most important figures in European regulation, responsible for overseeing far-reaching pieces of legislation.

Maijoor’s academic roots are firmly grounded in Maastricht. He first arrived at FEBA (the Faculty of Economics and Business Administration, the precursor to SBE) as a PhD student. And he has stuck around ever since: first as a professor specialising in financial reporting and auditing, and later as Dean of the faculty from 2001 to 2004. He continued to work as a professor at UM (and at the VU University Amsterdam) even during his tenure as director of the Netherlands Authority for the Financial Markets (AFM). But with his new appointment at ESMA, Maijoor is – at least temporarily – bidding farewell to the academic world.

Colleagues at SBE have every faith that Maijoor will take to his new role like a duck to water. According to fellow professors Harold Hassink and Rogier Deumes, one of his key strengths lies in maintaining the balancing act between sometimes competing interests: at UM, he was skilled at combining management with research; and at the AFM, at walking the tightrope between policy, politics and academia. As Hassink points out, he managed to avoid mutiny at the AFM despite the fact that the organisation underwent some major changes on his watch. These qualities will certainly come in handy at ESMA, where he will be surrounded by an entirely new team in a very politically sensitive environment.

It won’t be an easy task. But Maijoor will be well prepared for it, say his former colleagues. As Hassink puts it, Maijoor is no ‘typical’ accountant. Rather, he is a genuine economist who approaches his work from the perspective of societal problems. Nor is he easily swayed by nonsense. Last September, the Dutch newspaper Het Financieele Dagblad quoted Maijoor as saying “They don’t have to like me”. Deumes has to laugh. “We’ve got the article hanging on the noticeboard here. To tease him a bit, but I also know for sure that he really means it!”

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