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Friday, 14 October 2011 11:31

ANZ Bank installs new tech honcho


Just a week after speaking at a CEDA event to stress the importance of technology to the success of banks in the current economic climate, ANZ Bank chief information officer Anne Weatherston has been stripped of her direct reporting link to the bank's CEO Mike Smith.

When Ms Weatherston's appointment was first announced in late 2009 the bank trumpeted the fact that she would be a direct report to Mr Smith. This morning however the bank announced that it had installed above her Alistair Currie, as group chief operating officer. Mr Currie was formerly managing director of transaction banking in the institutional arm of ANZ,

Mr Currie has been given responsibility for technology, shared services and operations including ANZ's Bangalore, Manila and Chengdu hubs, property and major projects. Ms Weatherston will now report to Mr Currie.

This is out of kilter with much modern management thinking which recommends that in technology-dependent organisations a direct reporting link is maintained between the CEO and CIO roles. That is certainly the case at rival banks Commonwealth Bank and Westpac, where CIOs Michael Harte and Bob McKinnon report respectively to CEOs Ralph Norris and Gail Kelly.

The situation at NAB is slightly different. There Adam Bennett is NAB's CIO while Christine Bartlett is executive programme director in charge of the bank's NextGen banking modernisation programme. They both report to Gavin Slater who then reports to CEO Cameron Clyne.

Ms Weatherston, who remains the only female CIO of a big four bank and has recently completed the bank's technology blueprint to take it through to 2017, will remain on the ANZ's management board - but her direct reporting link to Mr Smith will be severed as of tomorrow.

In a media release Mr Smith said; 'We have established a clear technology strategy for the Group and we have a significant competitive advantage in our technology and operations hubs.'

He said that lower economic growth, deleveraging by consumers and business, and a greater regulatory burden required the bank to adopt a new operating model. Integrating the oversight of technology, shared services and operations was intended to deliver; 'Value to customers more quickly and '¦ productivity gains.'

Ms Weatherston stressed at CEDA last week the need for banks to lift their game in terms of harnessing technology to deliver more for less. She said that banks although cost conscious had not: 'Historically pursued costs to the same degree as manufacturing and retailing. They did not need to since money was cheap and margins high.'

To succeed today she warned that; 'Rigorous cost control will now be essential within financial services,' and that technology played a key role in that.

Ms Weatherston is currently bedding down an IT team reshuffle announced last month which led to the creation of three global IT teams to manage retail, commercial and wealth; institutional; and group functions. Two regional segments have also been been established - Asia Pacific Europe and America, and the New Zealand segment.

Each of the five teams will be led by a general manager technology. The bank also announced that Derek Youdale is leaving JP Morgan Chase & Co to take up the role as chief operating officer for technology and to lead Technology Business Services (TBS) from December.


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