ANZ deputy CEO Alexis George has been appointed as the new group CEO of AMP Ltd.
The appointment comes after AMP confirmed that Mr De Ferrari will retire from the role “as the company completes its portfolio review”. Media reports of Mr De Ferrari’s imminent departure began circulating last week, but the confirmation of his retirement was only confirmed on Thursday morning (1 April).
Ms George will join AMP as CEO in the third quarter of 2021, with Mr De Ferrari agreeing to remain in the CEO role until at least 1 July 2021, after which time he will be available to the company to assist with handover and ongoing support, AMP said.
According to AMP, Mr De Ferrari will continue to lead AMP during the interim period to ensure a smooth handover process to Ms George.
Furthermore, he will continue to work in partnership with the board and lead AMP’s key strategic initiatives, including discussions on the proposed transaction for AMP Capital’s private markets business with Ares Management Corp.
Mr De Ferrari was appointed as group CEO of AMP in December 2018, replacing interim CEO Mike Wilkins.
Ms George has more than 25 years’ experience in the financial services industry in Australia and overseas.
Commenting on the leadership change at AMP, AMP chair Debra Hazelton thanked Mr De Ferrari for his contribution to AMP while recognising his commitment to a smooth leadership transition.
“We wish him every success for the future and know he will continue to be the exemplary leader he has been at AMP,” she said.
“As we noted last week, with our portfolio review reaching completion, the board and Francesco agreed that it is an appropriate time to begin the transition to a new CEO to take AMP forward.”
Speaking about Ms George’s appointment, Ms Hazelton added that the incoming CEO will work with AMP’s executive team to complete and build on the strategic initiatives commenced under Mr De Ferrari’s stewardship, and “take AMP forward to its next phase of growth”.
Commenting further, Ms Hazelton said: “In Alexis George, we have a great leader and strong fit for the future of our company.
“On any measure, she has outstanding industry experience in wealth management and banking, and is committed to continue the transformation of AMP’s business and, importantly, our organisation’s culture.”
Speaking of his upcoming retirement, Mr De Ferrari said: “On our transformation journey we have taken bold steps to rebuild AMP as a simpler, client-led and growth oriented business.
“We have completed the AMP Life sale, embarked on the reinvention of wealth management in Australia and repivoted AMP Capital towards its strength in private markets.”
Mr De Ferrari also commented on the future of AMP, stating that: “The portfolio review concluded that unlocking the growth potential in private markets is best delivered either in partnership with a global player or via separation from the group.
“As a result, the future AMP will be largely focused on domestic wealth management and banking opportunities.”
Mr De Ferrari suggested that with this, AMP will have a different business mix and geographic profile, which he said would require a “different strategic focus” from the CEO.
He concluded: “While there is no optimal time for transition, the board and I agreed that for AMP to deliver on the next phase of its ambitious transformation, at this juncture long-term certainty of leadership is critical for our business, our employees and our clients.”
ANZ ‘incredibly disappointed’ to lose Ms George
Alexis George joined ANZ in 2013 and spent seven years at the bank, including most recently as deputy CEO, working with the CEO on group-wide strategic initiatives in addition to responsibility for its shared services centres and banking services.
Her other role at ANZ included group executive, wealth, where she led ANZ’s wealth divestment program worth around $4 billion, including the separation and sale of its life insurance and superannuation businesses.
ANZ added that she also played a critical role in ANZ’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.
Commenting on Ms George’s departure from ANZ, CEO Shayne Elliott said: “While we are incredibly disappointed to lose Alexis, I could not be more proud she has been asked to take on such an important role as the next CEO of AMP.
“Alexis has made an invaluable contribution over the last seven years, and I know she will have a similar impact on her new company. Her leadership during the pandemic was exceptional and made a big difference to how we were able to support our staff and customers through an incredibly challenging period.
“We will all miss her experience, wise counsel and down-to-earth leadership style. However, as one of the most experienced wealth executives in the country, she is ideally placed to lead AMP through its next phase and we all wish her well on the challenge.”
Mr Elliott concluded: “It is also a good thing our most senior women are being selected for these high-profile and challenging roles. It shows we are providing our people with the opportunities they deserve and Alexis’ appointment as CEO of AMP is ultimately in the best interest of the Australian business community.”
ANZ said that Ms George’s current responsibilities will be split across the executive committee.
Commenting on her upcoming departure from ANZ, Ms George stated: “I’m leaving ANZ with very mixed emotions. While I’m excited about the challenge ahead, I’ll miss the people and the supportive and inclusive culture we’ve built together at ANZ.
“I’m very proud to have been part of a team that has continued to focus on our customers, while supporting each other during a particularly difficult year. I wish them every success.”
Prior to ANZ, Ms George spent 10 years with ING Group in various senior roles, including CEO Czech Republic and Slovakia, responsible for banking, insurance and funds management, and regional chief operations office Asia, responsible for product, marketing, technology and operations.
[Related: AMP announces new CEO]