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CBA creates new role as it works on ‘restoring reputation’

The major bank is making changes to its executive leadership team as the banks continues its “focus on earning trust and restoring the reputation” of the institution.

The Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA) has announced that following the retirement of Anna Lenahan, its group general counsel and group executive for group corporate affairs, it has made changes to its executive leadership team

As previously announced, Ms Lenahan retired on 30 June 2019 after less than two years in the role.

Ms Lenahan, who joined the major bank in November 2016 from Suncorp Bank, was at the helm of the legal team for a range of difficult legal cases that had affected the bank over the past 18 months, including allegations of misconduct by financial advisers, mis-selling of insurance, allegations that it rigged the bank bill swap rate, overcharging of interest rates and the Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry.

Further, an inquiry launched by the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA) into the governance, culture and accountability within the CBA Group (as a result of the multiple alleged failings) slammed the bank for having “inadequate oversight”, “unclear accountabilities” and “a widespread sense of complacency”, among many other failings.  

While CBA’s deputy CEO, David Cohen, is now assuming responsibility as group general counsel and corporate affairs while the bank looks for a new executive for group general counsel and governance, the bank has decided to split off the corporate affairs remit into a separate role.

Speaking of the decision, the CEO of CBA, Matt Comyn, said that the retirement of Ms Lenahan had given the bank the opportunity to review the responsibilities of the role. 

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Mr Comyn said: “With our focus on earning trust and restoring the reputation of the Commonwealth Bank, we have decided to separate the role.

“In addition to a group general counsel and governance, we are creating the new role of group executive marketing and corporate affairs to allow for greater focus on how we engage with our customers, stakeholders and the broader community. Both roles will report directly to me.” 

The bank has already filled the new corporate affairs role and will be welcoming Priscilla Sims Brown, the CEO of US digital healthcare startup Emerge.me. She was previously senior vice president and chief marketing officer at AXA Financial in the US and has held executive leadership roles at AmeriHealth Caritas, Sun Life Financial US and Lincoln National Corporation.

Ms Sims Brown will take up the new role of group executive marketing and corporate affairs at CBA on 1 August, subject to regulatory and all other necessary approvals. 

Mr Comyn commented: “Priscilla is a seasoned senior executive with extensive investment management, insurance and financial services experience. In addition to her marketing and corporate affairs expertise, Priscilla has an impressive track record of driving ambitious growth and customer transformation agendas, particularly during challenging periods.

“Priscilla’s appointment will help us continue the changes and improvements we need to make to earn the trust of our customers and the community and build a better bank for the future. 

“I look forward to welcoming her to my executive team.” 

[Related: CBA to review privacy under OAIC undertaking]


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