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Westpac group CIO bound for Singapore

Westpac group CIO bound for Singapore

Westpac Banking Corporation's group chief information officer in Australia, Simon McNamara, has resigned and will take up the CIO role in Standard Chartered's global consumer banking business in Singapore.

Westpac Banking Corporation's group chief information officer in Australia, Simon McNamara, has resigned. He plans to take up the CIO role with British bank Standard Chartered's global consumer banking business in Singapore.

Mr McNamara was the highest-ranking of a number of senior technology executives at Westpac reporting to the group executive for business technology solutions and services, Diane Sias. She joined the group last September.

Mr McNamara left Westpac on Friday and will not be directly replaced because Ms Sias has taken over his duties.

The bank's senior IT executive ranks were swelled in March by the appointment of former St George Bank technology and operations head Peter Clare. He is part of the so-called Kelly Gang of executives who have worked with chief executive Gail Kelly at St George and at Commonwealth Bank of Australia.

Westpac spokeswoman Jane Counsel said the bank had known of Mr McNamara's desire to move on for some time, and had carried out a lengthy hand-over period with Ms Sias.

"With Diane coming into her role it was always going to be a question whether the CIO function was going to be part of her responsibility," Ms Counsel said.

"With her capability and experience, it didn't make sense to have two people with that CIO function, but because Simon had been here for a while, it was good to have an orderly transition period."

Westpac is preparing for two big technology challenges, which could determine the group's performance. If Westpac's acquisition of St George receives regulatory approval and proceeds as planned, it would be expecting to reap significant savings by combining the two IT operations.

Last month, the managing director of IT consultancy S2 Intelligence, Bruce McCabe, estimated integration costs for Westpac and St George could run into the hundreds of millions. He said it would be one of the most significant IT projects in Australia.

CBA's takeover of Colonial First State in 2000 created integration problems that took years to overcome.

In addition, the Big Four banks are preparing to invest a combined $2 billion to upgrade core IT systems that will help reduce the time taken to launch products and allow them to compete with emerging online players.

Ms Kelly has said that Westpac will deliver a core-systems strategy by the end of the year, but it is unlikely that work on the project will begin in earnest until the details of the merger are finalised.

Mr McNamara will start in his new role on August 1, reporting to the chief executive of Standard Chartered's consumer banking division, Steve Bertamini.

Westpac recently hired the former CIO at Wizard Home Loans and GE Money, Peter Harvey. He has been appointed head of consumer distribution IT in the consumer financial services division.

KEY POINTS

* Chief information officer Simon McNamara will not be replaced.

* The group executive for business technology solutions and services, Diane Sias, will take over his duties.

* Westpac is preparing for two big technology challenges, including the integration with takeover target St George Bank.

Fairfax Business Media

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