Premier to Customer Office? Baird’s NAB Move Explained

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Euromoney, February 2017

At a press conference in Melbourne on Tuesday, National Australia Bank (NAB) announced three new appointments. Two were of passing interest: Sharon Cook, managing partner at King & Wood Mallesons, as chief legal and commercial counsel, and Patrick Wright, the chief technology and operations officer of Barclaycard, as chief technology and operations officer.

The third? That raised some eyebrows. Mike Baird, who stepped down as premier of the state of New South Wales in January, is to become chief customer officer, corporate and institutional banking.

A state premier is a powerful job in Australia: the states, of which New South Wales is the biggest by population and economy, have considerable autonomy and he probably had a bigger day-to-day impact on the lives of Sydneysiders than the prime minister. He is said to have had his pick of offers when he retired from public life.

So, chief customer officer? It sounds like a mighty step down, particularly since NAB’s corporate and institutional bank – the bit for which he will have a mandate – is arguably the weakest of the big four Australian banks. Though it holds its own in investment banking, chiefly DCM, it lags ANZ and Westpac in markets more broadly, and Commonwealth Bank of Australia and Westpac on the transactional side of the business, but there’s more to it than that.

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Chris Wright
Chris Wright
Chris is a journalist specialising in business and financial journalism across Asia, Australia and the Middle East. He is Asia editor for Euromoney magazine and has written for publications including the Financial Times, Institutional Investor, Forbes, Asiamoney, the Australian Financial Review, Discovery Channel Magazine, Qantas: The Australian Way and BRW. He is the author of No More Worlds to Conquer, published by HarperCollins.

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