The New Zealand dollar's rally on news that Adrian Orr would be the next Governor of the Reserve Bank was a sign of relief in financial markets.

Initial reaction reflected confidence in Orr's credentials as a market economist and Reserve Bank veteran likely to provide monetary policy stability in a time of regulatory review.

Orr – though not quite an internal candidate – is a known entity.

He has been a prominent personality on the New Zealand financial markets scene for more than 20 years.


He was chief economist at National Bank and then later Westpac, a deputy Reserve Bank Governor heading the economics team. He has been chief executive at the NZ Superannuation Fund for a decade.

As such he's well placed to navigate the political subtleties of both financial markets and the public service sector.

"Adrian Orr is more politically savvy than the recent governors, and more aligned with Labour ideology and policies," said Christina Leung, principal economist at NZIER.

"As a leader, he is inclusive and will likely champion more diversity within the Reserve Bank," she said.

"His communication style is very straight up, which may provide markets with more certainty over the Reserve Bank's monetary policy outlook."

Orr is a passionate person and his confidence in public speaking has seen him go off script at times in the past few years - dropping in jokes and asides with deft timing.

That's prompted speculation that his tenure as governor may be a bit more colourful and entertaining than that of his predecessors - who have tended to maintain a conservative public persona.

It's possible we'll get a few more one liners in the official press conferences, but it would be surprising if Orr didn't temper aspects of his public persona for the new role.

As a leader, he is inclusive and will likely champion more diversity within the Reserve Bank

He will certainly have a deep respect for the role of governor and understanding of the weight it carries.

"Adrian will be very adaptable to the circumstances," said ASB chief economist Nick Tuffley. "The key thing is that whatever message he's wanting to get across, he'll get across very well."

Tuffley worked for Orr twice in his career – once at the Reserve Bank and again at Westpac.

In his research note on the appointment Tuffley noted there would be speculation about whether Orr was likely to be a "hawk" or "dove" on monetary policy.

In other words, whether he would lean towards raising rates or take a more cautious approach.

"We think this [speculation] is a little premature given we are at initial stages of the monetary policy review," Tuffley said.

He retained his view that interest rates were likely to remain on hold until early 2019.

Who will lead the NZ Superannuation Fund?

Meanwhile, Matt Whineray looks the most likely candidate to take over as chief executive at the NZ Superannuation Fund.

Whineray has been with the Super Fund since 2008 and has been its chief investment officer since 2014.

He has a strong management background having been a director at broking firm First NZ Capital.

He also held senior management roles at Credit Suisse Group in Hong Kong (as head of financial sponsor coverage for Asia ex-Japan) and as a vice-president at Credit Suisse First Boston in New York.