A spate of senior-level technology departures at St George Bank has continued with the institution's acting chief information officer, Greg Booker, jumping ship to head a two-year technology overhaul at wealth-management and insurance company ING Australia. INGA, a joint venture between Dutch banking giant ING and Australia and New Zealand Banking Group, yesterday named Mr Booker as its CIO to head an operational revamp of the organisation, a move followed by the announcement of other senior IT hirings.
Mr Booker had been filling in as St George's acting technology chief after the departure of Peter Clare in November 2007.
A St George spokesman said the bank expected to appoint a new group executive, group technology and operations, within a month or so.
He said that with the importance of the role, which covers both IT and operations for the St George group, thorough consideration had been given to both internal and external applicants. General manager group operations Paul Newham has been appointed acting group executive in the interim.
While Mr Clare has yet to take up any new full-time role, it is understood he is highly regarded by St George's previous boss, Gail Kelly, who is now chief executive officer at Westpac.
Mr Clare's exit followed that of John Loebenstein, who had held the CIO's role at St George for 12 years before retiring in March 2007.
The shake-up at INGA follows the announcement of plans to roll its operational and customer service functions, including business technology and adviser and customer contact centres, into a single customer solutions business unit headed by new chief operating officer Fred Bertram, who was appointed last November and will start on March 26.
Mr Booker will report to Mr Bertram and assume overall accountability for delivery of technology and the transformation program.
Late last year, INGA's acting CIO, Greg Baster, told The Australian Financial Review that the reorganisation represented an acceptance that the financial-services sector had become increasingly reliant on technology to drive growth.
INGA set about headhunting a new IT leadership team to work with the new CIO. The hiring spree has now been completed and highlights a strategy of cherry-picking executives from rival companies.
INGA has raided Westpac to snap up its head of strategy and business architecture Robert Liong to be head of e-business. Chris Tham, a former enterprise architecture consultant at National Australia Bank, has been appointed head of application development and support, and Insurance Australia Group's head of group applications, Fiona Floyd, has been appointed head of application development and support.
Meanwhile, niche retail bank HSBC Australia is looking to its own ranks for a replacement for recently departed chief information officer Chuck Stegan. It has named his deputy, Brenton Hush, as his replacement.
Hush will be responsible for HSBC information systems across Australia and New Zealand. He spent the past 18 months as deputy CIO, and previously was CIO for the General Pants Group.
HSBC says Hush will be responsible for the management of the bank's corporate banking platform, HSBCnet, its retail point-of-sale platform and credit-card system.
HSBC Australia chief executive Stuart Davis says Hush will drive the company's "build once, deploy many" IT strategy for implementing customer-facing systems.
Stegan left before Christmas for a regional position in Hong Kong.
Observers say Hush's promotion is a rare Australian example of a deputy CIO moving into the top job.
He will report to the local deputy CEO and former head of personal financial services, Alan Richards.
One of his priorities is chip-and-PIN-enabled credit cards. "We have not seen chip-and-PIN take off here and it's something to get moving," he says.
Fairfax Business Media
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