Wealth industry execs reluctant to ‘jump ship’ until post-RC fallout revealed

Photographer: Oliver Sjöström, https://ollivves.com

With many executives within the financial services sector deciding to ‘stay put’ amid the mayhem surrounding the sector, head-hunters are finding it tougher to convince would-be candidates to throw their hat in the ring for new positions. Ironically, there’s no shortage of senior wealth industry jobs up for grabs, and they’ll be even more on offer once the CBA Bank spins off its $6 billion-plus wealth operation the CFS Group.

However, Jane Stevenson a US-based CEO recruiter with Korn Ferry is witnessing an unwillingness by executives to even look at what’s on offer. She expects the recent ‘hunkering down’ of executives to continue until the dust from the high-profile and highly damning the royal commission findings into the sector finally settles, and post-royal commission recommendations become public.

What concerns executives are calls for a future dismantling of the ‘vertical integration’ that’s played out within the financial services sector in recent years, plus a scrapping of commissions on legacy products, and the prospect of corporate regulators permanently looking over their shoulders. Another great unknown for executives is what impact the new Banking Executive Accountability regime – which may also be applied to wealth companies – will have on future bonuses that they’ve come to expect.

Values before personal ambition

With AMP currently facing no fewer than five class actions for misconduct, Stevenson suspects the appointment of a new CEO will be exceptionally tough, with those who may have put their hand up, shying away from what they see as a ‘poisoned chalice’ role. What’s going to make the new CEO job at AMP even harder, adds Stevenson is the degree of transparency the market and regulators will demand into their plans to reform the business.

While the AMP is looking for a new CEO with financial sector experience, first and foremost, acting CEO Mike Wilkins said ‘the company needs someone with a good set of values who is going to put the customer first’.

Rather than focusing on getting themselves noticed, Stevenson reminds young executives that if they concentrate on ‘making a difference’ within their existing role, then good jobs will find them.

“Young executives should take opportunities to build skills and capabilities, and harness the power of individuals to create outcomes… These are people who will get noticed because they will create exponentially different outcomes than people who are motivated by personal ambition,” Stevenson told AFR Weekend during a recent visit to Sydney.


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