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Chaos at AMP as CEO revolving door continues

Left to right: Alexis George; Francesco De Ferrari; Craig Meller. AMP will have had three CEOS in just as many years. (Source: Getty)
Left to right: Alexis George; Francesco De Ferrari; Craig Meller. AMP will have had three CEOS in just as many years. (Source: Getty)

Wealth giant AMP’s leadership woes have continued after its chief executive Francesco De Ferrari announced he was retiring from his job.

The announcement follows a staff shake-up just two years ago when several AMP senior executives, including its chair and CEO, were dumped amid heavy scrutiny.

De Ferrari was installed as CEO in December 2018 after 17 years “build[ing] strong teams” and establishing good corporate culture at Credit Suisse, with the mission to “drive change at AMP”.

A statement issued by AMP today said De Ferrari was retiring from his role “as the company completes its portfolio review”.

AMP chair Debra Hazelton thanked De Ferrari for his “significant service” to AMP and said he had led the business through a tough period as well as reshaping and simplifying the business.

“With our portfolio review reaching completion, the Board and Francesco agreed that it is an appropriate time to begin the transition to a new CEO to take AMP forward,” she said.

Commenting on his exit, De Ferrari said AMP’s ‘portfolio review’ had pointed to a different future path for the company that involved focusing on domestic wealth management and banking opportunities.

“However, it means the group will have a very different business mix and geographic profile requiring a different strategic focus from the CEO.”

Big four bank ANZ’s deputy chief executive Alexis George will take his place in the third quarter of this year.

Staff shake-up: What has happened?

George’s appointment comes seven months after AMP lost three of its most senior leaders in one day. AMP Capital chief Boe Pahari stepped down from his role in late August last year amid backlash that he had been promoted after a sexual harassment allegation.

AMP chairman David Murray and board director John Fraser also resigned on the same day.

The financial services giant’s leadership woes began when the Banking Royal Commission in 2018-19 uncovered bombshell allegations of systemic malpractice, including charging fees for no service and charging dead customers fees.

The revelations saw the resignation of its CEO at the time, Craig Meller, on 20 April 2018. Ten days later, then-AMP chair Catherine Brenner resigned, and about a week later, three female board members Vanessa Wallace, Holly Kramer and Patty Akopiantz said they would be resigning or not seeking re-election to the board.

Who is Alexis George and what was she appointed for?

George has been with ANZ since 2013 and has served as group executive of the wealth vision as well as her current rule as deputy CEO.

ANZ deputy CEO Alexis George will step into the role as AMP's CEO later this year. (Source: ANZ)
ANZ deputy CEO Alexis George will step into the role as AMP's CEO later this year. (Source: ANZ)

ANZ CEO Shayne Elliott said the business was “incredibly disappointed” to lose George from the business, and said her “experience, wise counsel and down-to-earth leadership style” would be missed.

He also praised her appointment as AMP’s next CEO as a boon for corporate Australia more broadly.

George’s appointment makes it a rare ASX200 company in that it will be led by both a female CEO and chair.

“It is also a good thing our most senior women are being selected for these high-profile and challenging roles. It shows we are providing our people with the opportunities they deserve and Alexis’s appointment as CEO of AMP is ultimately in the best interest of the Australian business community,” Elliott said.

Hazelton said her appointment was a “strong fit for the future of the company”, indicating she would continue to play a major hand in transforming AMP’s culture.

“On any measure, she has outstanding industry experience in wealth management and banking, and is committed to continue the transformation of AMP’s business, and importantly, our organisation’s culture.”

George said she was departing ANZ with “very mixed emotions”.

“While I’m excited about the challenge ahead, I’ll miss the people and the supportive and inclusive culture we’ve built together at ANZ.

“I’m very proud to have been part of a team that has continued to focus on our customers, while supporting each other during a particularly difficult year. I wish them every success.”

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