Mr Elderfield has declined to comment on his next step. However, part of the Central Bank statement says he will “step away with immediate effect from involvement in supervisory and other issues if and where a conflict could be perceived”.
This has prompted speculation that Mr Elderfield has taken up a position at a UK financial institution with a presence in Ireland.
“There is no doubt that Mr Elderfield’s skill, expertise, and experience will be a loss to the Central Bank of Ireland, but he is leaving at a time when normality is returning to the financial system and the Central Bank is suitably prepared to deal with his departure in six months time,” said Finance Minister Michael Noonan.
Mr Elderfield joined the Central Bank in Jan 2010 at the height of the financial crisis. His first big move was to force Quinn Insurance into administration when it emerged that the company had been in breach of rules on capital requirements.
He played a prominent role in the stress tests of the banks conducted in Mar 2011, which concluded that there was a €24bn shortfall in the system.
Mr Elderfield has been a key figure in the Central Bank’s response to tackling the mortgage arrears crisis. He unveiled the bank’s strategy in last month, which includes targets for each mortgage lender to deal with distressed customers.
Under his stewardship, the Central Bank’s approach to regulation became much more intrusive, with a huge emphasis on prudential supervision. In the period leading up to the crisis, the regulatory regime had been light-touch, with a focus on consumer protection.
It is not known who his successor will be. John Moran and Ann Nolan, both from the Department of Finance, have been mentioned. Fiona Muldoon and Gareth Murphy from the Central Bank are also seen as contenders.
Mr Elderfield has waived a €100,000 bonus that he was entitled to as part of his contract.
Central Bank governor, Patrick Honohan said: “Matthew accepted the role of financial regulator at a key moment in the history of the State. With energy, commitment, and integrity he has managed the necessary transformation in our approach to the stabilisation, regulation, and supervision of financial institutions.”
Mr Elderfield said: “It has been a great privilege to be a public servant in Ireland in such challenging times. But after some six years away, it is time to return home to London. With the help of a fantastic team at the Central Bank, I feel we have built a strong regulator and set Ireland on a path to financial stability. I am very grateful for all the support I have had during my time here and will remain a friend of Ireland for years to come.”
Prior to joining the Central Bank, he spent two years as head of the Bermuda Financial Authority and held a number of senior positions with the UK Financial Services Authority.