Westpac CIO Craig Bright heads for the exit

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Westpac CIO Craig Bright heads for the exit

Resigns after less than two years.

Westpac has lost its chief information officer Craig Bright less than two years into the role, with the bank’s retail head, David Lindberg also pulling the rip cord on the institution.

Australia’s oldest bank confirmed on Tuesday that both Bright and Lindberg had accepted roles with institutions overseas and that it had commenced and international search to find replacements.

The departures of the two critical executives is a body blow to Westpac that is in the process of fronting prosecution by regulators over a raft of anti-money laundering breaches that occurred over a decade prior to Bright's arrival.

Bright, who had been lured across from Citibank, had been put in charge of spearheading a substantial overhaul of Westpac’s operational systems to lift service performance, put an end to vendor price gouging and evaluate options to replace Westpac’s Hogan core banking system.

However not long into his tenure the bank was hit by the AUSTRAC scandal that culminated in the removal of both Westpac’s chief executive Brian Hartzer and chairman Lindsay Maxted.

Sources at other institutions suggested that Bright has been poached by a UK institution, most like Barclays, although this is still to be confirmed.

A major issue for Australian banks that have been successively hammered by the Banking Royal Commission is that it is becoming increasingly harder to serious attract overseas talent to what has effectively become an executive shooting gallery.

At the same time, conspicuous contrition by local institutions in the form of reduced or eliminated performance incentives will make Australia’s pay grades jarringly skinny compared to what overseas institutions pay.

It is understood that Bright will still serve out his notice period at Westpac, which the bank has not yet disclosed, though it is common for executive committee positions to have notice periods for as long as a year.

Bright’s departure to an overseas bank rather than a local competitor will also almost certainly see him work out his notice period rather than being sent on gardening leave, giving Westpac much-needed continuity as it continues reforming its technology estate.

More to come...

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