Yadin Antebi
Yadin Antebi Photo by Photos: Ofer Vaknin
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Two "formers" at the Finance Ministry (i.e. public sector ) were appointed this week to senior positions in the capital market (i.e. private sector ). Yadin Antebi, former commissioner of capital markets, insurance and savings, has been appointed CEO of DS Apex, and Arik Peretz, his former deputy at the treasury, will be a vice president at Psagot.

Much could be said on what these appointments mean about the capital market's direction. They seem to indicate, for example, that the owners want more emphasis on regulation, corporate governance and risk management, and are less concerned about marketing or professional investment management. It appears the investment houses' focus could be moving toward insurance companies and long-term savings.

But more important is the heavy responsibility of managing the public's money that has been placed on the shoulders of these two worthy people. Antebi and Peretz were chosen to lead Israel's two largest and most important independent investment houses. After exercising regulatory responsibility over NIS 1 trillion of the public's money, they will now exercise direct responsibility over NIS 210 billion.

Even if they no longer work in the public sector and their salaries are several times higher, they should realize they still work for the public. Managing the public's funds is a huge and sacred responsibility.

Eli Barkat, Antebi's new employer, appointed himself DS Apex chairman this week and announced his intention to separate fund management from the underwriting and proprietary departments. While we still don't know how this will come about, hopefully this isn't just talk. Conflicts of interests are among the capital market's worst problems, and for DS Apex this is an unsolved issue.

But this isn't enough. Antebi and Peretz will soon discover how much our money is being sought in the business sector and how much powerful and important businessmen need them. They will be invited to lunches and take phone calls - friendly at first, then less so. They will need to handle demands that they sign off on excessive executive pay and other transactions that harm the public. There are no guarantees of full backing from the owners of their companies, and they might even have to face slander and threats.

They will need to listen only to their investment managers and analysts, and their inner voice, remembering that they are managing the money of the little guy from Hadera. Whichever of the two keeps this idea foursquare in front of him will be assured that in the long run the owner will be satisfied. And even if not, they will still be able to look their fellow driver in the eye at the traffic light and quietly say: "Today I did something for you."