news Australia and New Zealand Banking Group announced late last week that its chief information officer Anne Weatherston would “step down”, with the executive’s responsibilities to be assumed by the bank’s chief operating officer while a global search is undertaken for her replacement.
Weatherston joined the bank as chief information officer in 2010, after a career that had seen the executive hold the role of chief information officer at Bank of Ireland, IT director at Abbey/Santander and a number of other senior roles throughout Europe.
The CIO position at ANZ is formally responsible for the group’s entire technology and information security operations, including oversight of the provision of IT infrastructure and software development services. The role also includes responsibility for defining and executing the bank’s technology strategy, Towards 2017. This strategy is the technology roadmap to enable ANZ’s broader business strategy to grow from an Australian and New Zealand base, to become a super regional bank for Asia Pacific by 2017.
“ANZ today announced that Anne Weatherston will step down as Chief Information Officer and that her responsibilities will be assumed by Alistair Currie, Group Chief Operating Officer, until a replacement is appointed,” the bank said in a statement issued late last week.
Currie, whose current role includes responsibility for technology, shared services and operations across ANZ, said: “We have made very significant progress under Anne’s leadership by establishing a transformation roadmap for ANZ technology aligned to ANZ’s super regional strategy.”
“This has seen ANZ strengthen technology infrastructure, introduce new customer channels including mobile goMoney and ANZ Transactive, deliver new global processing systems in payments, loans and markets, move to a single core banking platform in New Zealand and develop a first class technology organisation to support our business.”
“We are now increasingly taking an integrated approach to the Group’s business transformation agenda across technology, shared services and operations. This is delivering more capability and better value for customers while driving significant productivity gains. Anne has achieved a great deal during her time at ANZ. I’d like to thank her for her contribution and wish her well with her future career.”
The bank said that a global search would be undertaken to fill the role of Chief Information Officer, with Currie’s direct responsibility for ANZ’s technology function effective immediately.
I believe Australia’s banking IT sector will view Weatherston’s tenure at ANZ Bank as something of a mixed bag.
There is no doubt that the executive is top-class global chief information officer. Weatherston’s visionary speech to a lunch of the Committee for the Economic Development of Australia in October 2011 certainly highlighted that fact and how deeply the executive understands the rapidly changing global banking industry from a technological perspective. Then too, from all indications the CIO has been able to successfully keep ANZ’s technology operations delivering to support the bank’s ‘super-regional’ Asian strategy.
ANZ Bank has been innovative from customer-facing and IT service delivery perspectives during Weatherson’s tenure. The CIO has pushed the envelope and deserves credit for this.
However, one also suspects that the executive has not been able to achieve the cut-through at the bank’s highest levels that other CIOs such as CommBank’s Michael Harte or Suncorp’s Jeff Smith have plainly been able to. Alone amongst Australia’s top four banks, ANZ still lacks a core banking rejuvenation strategy, and at times Weatherston has been overshadowed by business executives such as Currie or deputy chief executive Graham Hodges.
Few could forget the briefing Hodges and Weatherston held in July 2011 which was supposed to outline the bank’s technology strategy, but ended up delivering only vague hints of its roadmap. The contrast between this event and the all-singing, all-dancing technology roadshows put on by Harte at CBA could not be more stark; and the rapid advancements of CBA’s technology capabilities (especially its real-time banking abilities) shows how the bank’s investments in IT are strongly paying off.
It will be interesting to see whether ANZ places technology more strongly at the centre of its strategy with its next chief information officer, seeing IT as more of a critical strategic business enabler and less of a cost centre. I certainly hope so.