NAB's McEwan raids Westpac ranks for digital talent

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NAB's McEwan raids Westpac ranks for digital talent

Business bank loses digital chief.

National Australia Bank chief executive Ross McEwan has wasted little time raiding his rivals for talent to bolster the institution’s senior tech ranks, luring the digital lead of Westpac’s business bank, Quentin Boyes as a raft of IT leadership positions open up across the financial sector.

While an official announcement of Boyes’ hiring is yet to be made, it is understood McEwan has been scouting for new talent to re-energise the NAB’s technology transformation and boost its online reliability as rivals muscle in its substantial business banking patch.

NAB on Friday was beset by another outage, this time hitting its business banking facility NAB Connect, stranding some businesses attempting to push through end of month transactions.

The incidence of outages has become a matter of keen interest for the Reserve Bank of Australia which has said it will soon publicly list  not just the level and severity of outages, but attribute them to institutions.

The central bank and payments system watchdog has become increasingly concerned about the general state of resilience of banking IT systems that underpin payments because of the increasing dominance of digital and electronic channels.

Westpac and NAB have for years been fierce rivals in business banking services which stretch across payments processing and transactional accounts for merchants and government agencies.

However over the last two years the Commonwealth Bank has adopted a decidedly more assertive posture in business services by seeking to use its real-time core to snap-up business keen on faster settlements and cash flow.

Like McEwan – who was the head of CBA’s retail bank before departing to helm the Royal Bank of Scotland after Ian Narev was appointed CBA’s CEO – Boyes is also a CBA veteran putting in 12 years there until he headed to Westpac in 2016.

Boyes’ current role is as general manager for service and digital transformation at Westpac’s business bank.

McEwan’s poaching of Boyes has fuelled speculation that NAB will soon recalibrate its overall tech strategy to more closely reflect the priorities of the recently appointed CEO.

In September last year NAB lost its outspoken chief cloud evangelist and executive general manager for business enabling technology, Yuri Misnik.

Since then the institution has declared it intends to be “100 percent in the cloud”.

Boyes’ move comes amidst a raft of other senior technologist job changes that will have executive head hunters licking their lips.

Last week the CBA lost its chief digital officer, and veteran journeyman Pete Steel. Also on the move is highly regarded former RBA CIO Sarv Girn who last week left life insurer MLC Life.

Meanwhile Westpac currently has a role open for a “Head of Group Technology Enablement” it says is needed to help standardise the bank’s approach to IT product and services including setting up a “a one-stop-shop for Group Technology end users”.

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