Hunt is on at CBA to fill Chapman’s shoes
The game of executive musical chairs at the Commonwealth Bank of Australia has kicked off following the resignation of the bank’s New Zealand managing director.
Barbara Chapman, who has headed CBA’s New Zealand arm ASB since 2011, said on Monday she would retire at Easter next year.
Her decision comes two weeks after CBA’s wealth boss Annabel Spring said she would leave the bank in December following the sale of the company’s life insurance business.
Chief executive Ian Narev will leave by July next year, which is expected to trigger a shake-up of the bank’s senior ranks.
While Chapman’s departure is not directly linked to Narev’s decision to leave, it is a precursor to the upheaval in the bank’s senior ranks that will follow the announcement of his replacement.
Chapman’s appointment in 2011 by former chief Ralph Norris pre-dates Narev and she is not part of the close-knit team he appointed after he got the job.
Chapman has not been directly linked to the series of scandals surrounding the bank and she is understood to have been looking to move on for some time.
Her decision to retire will create an attractive vacancy though for one of the rising stars who will benefit from next year’s management overhaul.
An obvious successor would be the bank’s head of strategy, New Zealander Vittoria Shortt. The job would give her the experience if she wanted to return to Australia in a more senior role in the future.
She was involved in the recent A$4 billion deal to sell the company’s life insurance business to AIA.
Another name closer to home that’s being thrown around is former Fairfax NZ managing director Simon Tong. He left the media company (publisher of Stuff and the Sunday Star-Times) earlier this year to become ASB’s executive general manager Technology, Innovation and Payments, reporting to Chapman.
The decision by two of the bank’s most senior executives to announce their departure in a fortnight will trigger speculation about a mass exodus of senior staff.
While money laundering allegations have tarnished the chances of top internal candidates to succeed Narev, many executives will likely wait to see who Narev’s successor will be. An external replacement is being tipped.
Names being bandied around to replace Narev include Royal Bank of Scotland boss Ross McEwan, Medibank chief Craig Drummond and former Westpac executive Rob Whitfield.
CBA retail bank boss Matt Comyn had previously been considered the most likely internal candidate along with new finance chief Rob Jesudason.
One problem chairman Catherine Livingstone faces if she wants to attract the top talent from offshore banks is pay. CBA, like all the Australia banks, is under enormous political pressure to crack down on remuneration.
- Australian Financial Review/ Stuff
Candidates are already being suggested to replace Barbara Chapman at ASB.