Mark Carney has been named as the new Governor of the Bank of England, replacing outgoing head Sir Mervyn King.
The role of Governor is the most important unelected position in Britain, and is chosen by the Government.
Mr Carney, a Canadian national, will take up his role on June 30 next year and will be the 120th Governor since 1694.
He is the first foreigner to be given the job - the Queen approved Mr Carney's nomination.
He was appointed Governor of the Bank of Canada in early 2008, for a term of seven years.
Mr Carney said he did not formally apply for the role - indicating he was head-hunted by Britain for the job.
He said he was "honoured to accept this important and demanding role".
Mr Carney added: "I was never going to be at the Bank of Canada forever."
Sky's Economics Editor Ed Conway said: "This is a real surprise for the City.
"He will serve a five-year term rather than the eight-year term originally advertised.
"We don't know the future of current Deputy Governor Paul Tucker, who has been heading towards this role all his career."
Mr Tucker had been tipped for the post but in recent months was embroiled in the LIbor scandal, after email correspondence emerged between the bank and Barclay's Bob Diamond.
Mr Carney was born in Fort Smith, in Canada's Northwest Territories, and received a bachelor’s degree in economics from Harvard University in 1988.
He received a master’s degree in economics in 1993 and a doctorate in economics in 1995, both from Oxford University.
Prior to joining the Canadian civil service, Mr Carney had a 13-year career with investment bank Goldman Sachs in its London, Tokyo, New York and Toronto offices.
A father-of-four, his wife is a British national and his children all hold dual nationality.
Announcing the choice to the House of Commons, Chancellor George Osborne said Mr Carney would apply for British citizenship - as the Prime Minister smiled - like all other applicants.
Britain requires citizenship applicants to pass a multiple choice written test before undertaking a civil ceremony, typically at the resident's local town hall.
After receiving citizenship papers, applicants can apply for a British passport. They are then quizzed in person by Passport Office staff to verify their identity.