Westpac appoints retail & digital banking veteran as chief of consumer

Chris De Bruin Westpac

Westpac has sought expertise from abroad to lead its largest division, appointing 25-year veteran of financial services, Chris de Bruin, as chief of consumer.

De Bruin joins Westpac from Deem, one of the largest lenders and credit institutions in the UAE, where he currently serves as chief executive. The company supports 230,000 customers with a loan book of around $750 million.

Formerly Standard Chartered’s global head of retail products and digital banking, de Bruin oversaw the Asian banking giant’s retail products and payments strategy and delivery, leading a revamp of the retail arm’s digital channels and backend processes.

Prior to this, as SC’s head of distribution, he was responsible for bank’s sales and service channels, including online, contact centres, and mobile functions. He served a number of senior roles across his 13-year tenure at SC, leading wealth management and private banking divisions across the group.

Prior to his headship of Deem, de Bruin also served one year as president of the Toronto-based banking SaaS developer, Zafin.

As Westpac’s consumer chief, he will head a team of more than 10,000 people supporting more than 9 million customers. Overseeing Westpac’s core brands, including St.George, BankSA, Bank of Melbourne and RAMS, the role includes support functions for marketing, digital, operations, product, risk and finance.

De Bruin succeeds former consumer chief David Lindberg, who left Westpac in May to take on a new role in the UK as NatWest’s (part of the Royal Bank of Scotland) retail banking chief.

The loss of Lindberg, who announced his resignation from Westpac concurrently with CIO Craig Bright, was a massive body blow to the bank. The former retail head played a decisive role in boosting the bank’s customer experience and satisfaction levels, according to Westpac chief executive Peter King, with many seeing him as a potential future leader of the big four bank.

Retail CFO Richard Burton stood in as acting consumer chief in the interim four months.

King hailed De Bruin’s “extensive experience in consumer banking”, as well as his “strong background in fintech and digital banking”.

“[This] will be particularly valuable as we work to enhance our digital capability and better meet customers’ changing needs.”