Movers & Shakers, Financial Services | October – November, 2021

Paul White CIO
Newly appointed ANZ Australia CIO, Paul White

ANZ creates dedicated CIO role for its Australian arm; The Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) appoints new tech chief; and Aussie BNPL player Zip Co poaches Citi’s global head of payments. 


ANZ has appointed its current wealth chief Paul White as Divisional Chief Information Officer for group’s Australia business – a newly created role for the business.

White will be charged with overseeing the ANZ’s overarching technology strategy, including its major transformation project ANZX, set with the task of developing a dedicated, cloud-native banking platform.

Serving as ANZ’s Head of Wealth over last the seven months, White was tasked with finalising the divestment of ANZ’s former life insurance, superannuation and third-party advice businesses to Zurich and IOOF. He previously served as ANZ Wealth’s Chief Operating Officer (Technology & Operations), a role he held for four years.

Prior to joining ANZ in 2014, he held roles at HSBC in the United Kingdom and Switzerland, designing and engineering global platforms and leading large-scale transformation projects.

ANZ’s Group Executive Technology Gerard Florian praised White as a “great fit for this newly created role with a strong technology background and solid focus on delivering for customers”.

“He has a strong technology background as well as a solid delivery focus and track record in leading teams through change, creating the conditions to enable high performance and building strong partnerships and stakeholder relationships”.

White will commence the new role on 30 November 2021.


The Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) has promoted its deputy IT chief Stephen Smith to lead its tech function.

Smith replaces Gayan Benedict, who left the RBA in earlier October to take up a new role as Chief Technology Officer of Salesforce.

As the central bank’s new IT chief, Smith will be tasked with providing strategic technical leadership, as well as “maintaining systems security, resilience, and efficiency”.

A 25-year-veteran of strategic and operational ICT, Smith previously served in the public sector, with senior tech roles at TAFE NSW and Services NSW. He has also held senior roles at Westpac and NAB.

Commenting on his appointment, Smith said he was “honoured” to step into the new role “at this incredibly exciting time in the Bank’s history”.

“I am proud of the role the RBA has played in supporting the Australian economy throughout the pandemic.

“As we move forward into a post-pandemic world, I’m looking forward to working with the Bank’s strong leadership team to lead the technology function into the next stage of its journey.”


Aussie buy now, pay later company Zip Co, has announced the appointment of a new Global Chief Technology Officer, with payments industry veteran Ahu Chhapgar to take on the inaugural role.

Zip said the role will help drive the BNPL provider’s global expansion, with Ahu supporting the organisation’s tech function “on an end-to-end basis”.

“He will drive innovation across Zip’s engineering and technology capabilities and ensure the company’s technology platforms deliver the best possible experience for customers and merchants,” the company said in a statement.

Ahu, formerly of Citi (as Managing Director, Global Head of Payments and Receivables Technology) and an eight-year veteran of payments giant PayPal, will maintain residence in the US, based in Zip’s New York office and report directly to Zip’s Global Chief Executive and co-founder Larry Diamond.

“We are pumped to have Ahu join the Zip family. He comes with an outstanding track record in payments engineering that will be crucial to Zip as we continue to scale, allowing us to drive global synergies while also ensuring local teams are empowered to win in their markets,” Diamond said.

“Ahu will provide the north star for our engineering and technology teams, as we strive to be the first payment choice everywhere, every day.”

“Zip’s growth means we not only need transformational engineering leadership, but also a highly capable people leader who can attract and develop world-class talent and that is Ahu.”

Ahu will commence his new role on 1 December.


Suncorp has appointed Bridget Messer as Group Chief Risk Officer (CRO).

Messer joins Suncorp from IG Group, a London-based FTSE 250 company, where she was Executive Director and Chief Commercial Officer.

Suncorp Group Chief Executive Steve Johnston praised Messer’s “expertise across regulatory, compliance, legal, and governance in a high-growth business”.

“She also has deep commercial experience and a global perspective, having led teams across multiple geographies,” Johnston said.

Suncorp noted its risk function “is a key enabler of Suncorp’s FY23 strategy, ensuring the Group’s systems, processes and services are well-positioned to support our growth ambitions”.

“Ensuring we have strong risk oversight, culture and strategy remains critical as we navigate today’s regulatory environment and as Suncorp focuses on digital and technology-led growth.”

Messer is expected to commence her new role in early 2022.


Travel insurer Cover-More has appointed Conor Breslin as Group Chief Information Officer, replacing Nicki Doble.

The UK-based Breslin previously served as Group CIO at Provident Financial Group and prior to this at Vanquis Bank.

“As we continue to evolve our app-based customer propositions and open up a new world of travel protection for travellers, the role of CIO is critical to ensure our technology is best in class,” Group Chief Executive Cara Morton said.

“Conor brings a wealth of industry experience that will underpin our continued strong emergence from the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on global travel and the travel industry.”

Former Group CIO Nicki Doble will remain with the business until the end of next month as a strategic adviser and to help facilitate the transition.

The Zurich-owned travel insurance specialist has also appointed Todd Nelson as Managing Director Australia, taking over from Will Ashcroft.

Ashcroft becomes MD New Zealand and New Business ANZ, with the expanded responsibilities to include strategic business development across Australia and New Zealand.


The Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA) has created the new role of Senior Ombudsman, appointing seven new members (all internal promotions) to the position across seven core focus areas for the dispute resolution authority.

The new appointments:

  • Anne Maree Howley, Senior Ombudsman, Superannuation
  • Chris Liamos, Senior Ombudsman General Insurance
  • Louise McAuliffe, Senior Ombudsman, Credit
  • Shail Singh, Senior Ombudsman, Investments and Advice
  • Neva Skilton, Senior Ombudsman, Transactions
  • Brenda Staggs, Senior Ombudsman, Financial Difficulty
  • Andrew Weinmann, Senior Ombudsman, Life Insurance

The new Senior Ombudsmen will work alongside AFCA’s Lead Ombudsmen in the areas of banking and finance, insurance, investments and advice, and superannuation.

“They’ll bring their specialist technical and professional expertise to bear on projects aimed at efficient and consistent decision making, which we know is important to both complainants and financial firms,” Deputy Chief Ombudsman June Smith said.

“The Senior Ombudsman will help ensure we deliver an independent, fair and consistent approach to decision making and complaint resolution.”

Projects for Senior members include the development of new and revised AFCA Approaches, which outline “how AFCA approaches certain types of financial complaint and [draws] on the experience of Ombudsmen in resolving complaints”.

The Senior Ombudsmen will be part of AFCA’s leadership team for its dedicated Decision Makers group, assembling more than 80 ombudsmen and adjudication panel members.


Allianz Australia has appointed Wolfgang Deichl as Chief Financial Officer.

Deichl joins from Allianz Germany, where he has served as Chief Accountant and Chief Actuary since 2016.

He replaces Paul Harvey, who has been acting in the role since May. Harvey will return to his previous role of Financial Controller.

Deichl will commence his new role on November 15


Integrity Life has appointed Gary Bailison to the newly created role of Head of Customer Product and Proposition.

He joins from fellow life insurer MetLife where he spent six years in several roles, most recently as the Chief Transformation Officer, as well as a stint as Head of Individual Insurance.


AustralianSuper has promoted Andrew Mantello to the position of Chief Risk Officer.

Mantello replaces Paul Schroder, who in October stepped up to take on the role of Chief Executive of the industry super fund, Australia’s largest.

Mantello has served with the fund for over a decade, most recently as Head of Emergent Risks.


– ANZ has appointed Simon Ireland as Managing Director, International.

Ireland currently serves as Global Head, Financial Insitutions Group, based in Hong Kong. In his new role, he will be responsible for ANZ’s Institutional business in 19 markets across Asia, Europe, Middle East and America.

He replaces Farhan Faruqui, who was appointed ANZ’s Group Chief Financial Officer.

Prior to joining ANZ in 2008, Ireland held roles at major financial institutions, including Lehman Brothers, Chase Manhattan Bank, Citibank, HSBC, RBS and Bank of America across Hong Kong, Singapore, London, San Francisco and Sydney.

Commenting on his appointment, Mark Whelan, ANZ’s Group Executive, Institutional said: “Simon is one of our most experienced banking executives in the Asia Pacific region.

“He is the ideal candidate for this role due to his deep understanding of international markets, and his ability to help our customers navigate evolving geopolitical and economic conditions around the region.”

Ireland commenced his new role on 18 October 2021.


Zurich Life & Investments has announced three senior leadership appointments:

Francis Burgess has been appointed to the newly created role of Head of Pricing, Group insurance. He joins from TAL, where he most recently served in a complementary role.

Burgess will work alongside Jennifer Faglioni and John Mirotsos, also appointed as Head of Product and Head of Partnerships respectively. Both are internal appointments.


IOOF Chief Information Officer Sharam Hekmat is set to leave the Australian wealth, advice and asset management giant, as it progresses with its integration of MLC Wealth, which it acquired from NAB earlier this year.

Under an exec reshuffle, the group’s technology division will now report to Chief Operating Officer Frank Lombardo.

A statement to the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX), which confirmed Hekmat’s departure, said the company had found “opportunities to accelerate product and platform simplification … which may change the original technology approach”.

Hekmat joined IOOF in 2017. According to his LinkedIn profile, he will commence a “career break” upon his departure from the wealth company.

The AFR has reported that a “budget hole” had emerged relating to the integration of the former NAB wealth arm’s technology systems.

“They underestimated the cost and Sharam is the fall guy for this error,” a source said, estimating that the additional costs could reach $50 million in the coming year.


– Cameron Meindl, Chief Platform Officer at Westpac, charged with overseeing the bank’s BaaS platform, has announced his resignation.

Meindl, who spent 13 years with the big four bank, served his last two years leading the development of Westpac’s 10x core banking platform, which forms the basis of its banking-as-a-service package.
“Having that platform in production means it was a fitting time to leave and pass the reigns to an incredibly talented team to take the next steps,” Meindl revealed in a LinkedIn post.

Meindl is set to relocate to Asia, “spending the next few months looking for opportunities compatible with my new location”.

The Financial Services Council (FSC) has announced Chief Executive Sally Loane will depart from the role at the end of the year, after seven years at the helm of the Council.

FSC Chairman, David Bryant, President said Loane had provided strong leadership for the FSC through a period of unprecedented change.

He said: “Sally strengthened the FSC’s contributions in a range of important policy areas for our industry and the consumers we serve; supported our members as they sought to undertake an extensive program of regulatory change; and expanded the FSC’s membership and engagement across what is a broad industry.


New Zealand

The Reserve Bank of New Zealand (RBNZ) (Te Pūtea Matua) has announced changes to its senior leadership structure, supporting its revised mandate under new legislation, it said.

The RBA’s Senior Leadership Team will expand from six to eight roles, including new General Managers of ‘Risk, Compliance and Legal Services’ and ‘Information and Data Analytics’.

Adrian Orr, Governor of the Reserve Bank of New Zealand said: “These new roles have been created to bolster the overall capability and capacity of the leadership team, and to ensure these important tasks are given appropriate prominence.

The RBNZ said it would begin recruitment for the new and vacant roles shortly.

These include General Managers for the Risk and Information roles, as well as for the ‘Money Group’, ‘Digital Solutions and Security’, and ‘Finance and Commercial Operations’.

He added that other senior leadership roles “have been refreshed to both accommodate the new roles and to ensure the Bank’s broader mandate is being appropriately managed”.

Following news of the restructure, Chief Financial Officer Mike Wolyncewicz has announced he will step down from the role. He will remain at the Reserve until May 2022 to assist with the transition.

Orr praised Wolyncewicz’s “incredible contribution to the Reserve Bank”.

“He’s led admirably through challenging times, and ensured the seamless delivery of critical projects like the Payments System Replacement Project.”


The RBNZ has also announced the appointment of Christian Hawkesby as Deputy Governor.

Hawkesby currently serves as the RBNZ’s Assistant Governor/General Manager of Economics, Financial Markets and Banking. He replaces Geoff Bascand, who is leaving the Reserve Bank in January after eight years.

Governor Adrian Orr recognised Hawkesby’s “wealth of leadership experience in both the private and public sector, and… deep experience of central banking, including financial stability”. 

Hawkesby will step into the new role in January 2022.


The Bank of New Zealand (BNZ) has appointed Simon Kwan as Executive, Operational Excellence.

In the role, which he is set to commence in January, Kwan will work closely with BNZ’s Technology and Partnership Banking teams “to drive a culture of innovation and deliver market leading customer experiences across our home and business lending operations”.

Kwan joins BNZ from Commonwealth Bank of Australia, where he currently serves as General Manager Home Buying Process and Operations. Prior to this, he was Executive Manager Group Operations at Westpac Australia, having held a number of positions in the bank previously.

BNZ Chief Executive Dan Huggins praised Kwan’s “extensive experience in the banking sector and a proven record in delivering innovation and process improvements for customers and colleagues”.


Insurance giant Tower has appointed Paul Johnston as Chief Financial Officer (CFO).

Johnston joins from Chubb, where he currently serves as CFO and Director of the insurer’s Far East region.

He replaces Jeff Wright, who announced he would step down from the role at the end 2021.

Tower Chief Executive noted Johnson’s 15 years’ senior and international experience in the insurance and financial services sectors.



Westpac has announced the forthcoming retirement of Steven Harker from its board, with Harker citing ongoing health concerns for his departure.

Harker joined the Westpac board in March 2019 and has been a member of its audit, legal, regulatory & compliance and remuneration committees.

John McFarlane, Westpac board chair, praised Harker “for his considerable contribution to Westpac, in what has been a challenging time for the company”.

“Steve’s investment banking experience has been invaluable to Westpac particularly in contributing to deliberations on our Institutional Bank.


NAB has backflipped on an announcement to appoint Vocus founder James Spenceley to its board.

A little over a week after the original announcement, NAB released a statement to the ASX retracting the appointment “claiming proxy advice and investor feedback regarding… Spenceley’s multiple board commitments had contributed to his decision to not proceed with the appointment”, the AFR reported.

Spenceley was expected to commence this position from 1 December, subject to regulatory approval.

NAB board chair Philip Chronican Spenceley on the original statement praised Spenceley for bringing “significant diversity of experience” to the major bank’s board, as well as being able to “quickly make a strong contribution as [it] consider[s] NAB’s strategic direction and the intense and rapidly changing competitive environment in which we operate”.


AustralianSuper, the country’s largest industry super fund, has announced the appointment of Michele O’Neil to its board. O’Neil currently serves as president of ACTU, a role she has held for the last three years.

In a statement, AustralianSuper chair, Don Russell noted O’Neil’s considerable experience with member-based organisations, being “very well placed to help the Fund as we continue to grow as a global investor,” he said.

O’Neil replaces outgoing director Dave Oliver, who joined the AustralianSuper board in 2007 and became deputy chair in 2014.


Police Bank has appointed Justine Saunders APM as Director to its board

In a statement, the Bank said: “Justine brings to the position a significant breadth and depth of experience from across law enforcement and government, where she has consistently demonstrated her ability to handle complex operational, capability and policy challenges with success”.

Saunders has been a member of the Australian Federal Police since 1989 and commenced in the role of Deputy Commissioner ABF Support on 29 October 2018.


The Financial Services Council (FSC) has appointed Nick Fels as Director.

Fels is currently Chief Executive of Bell Asset Management, with more than 30 years’ experience, including in governance, risk management, fund administration, investment management and distribution.

“[He] is a welcome addition to the FSC board and his wealth of experience and knowledge of the financial services will be valued,” FSC Chair David Bryant said.