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Heartland announces new bank CEO

The chief executive and executive director of Westpac Life is set to become the new CEO of Heartland Bank.

Heartland Bank has announced the appointment of Leanne Lazarus as CEO, taking on responsibility for the bank’s lending and deposit divisions.

Ms Lazarus, who is currently the CEO and executive director of Westpac Life (Westpac New Zealand’s insurance entity), will take on the role from 1 August, subject to Reserve Bank of New Zealand non-objection.

She will succeed the current Heartland Bank CEO, Chris Flood, who has been appointed deputy group CEO of Heartland Bank’s parent company, Heartland Group Holdings Limited (Heartland Group). 

The incoming CEO has more than 30 years of banking and financial services experience, including having held a range of executive positions across Westpac New Zealand and ANZ Banking Group.

She has strong experience in technological services and operations, having previously been ANZ’s head of business execution for global technology services and operations, Australia, as well as the MD for its technology and offshore support services in India.

The New Zealand-headquartered banking group suggested that her background in “operations and technology” would contribute to advancing Heartland Bank’s digitisation strategy and commitment to providing strong products and customer service.

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“Leanne’s extensive experience in operations and technology will contribute to advancing Heartland Bank’s digitalisation strategy, and the ongoing reduction of Heartland Bank’s cost-to-income ratio through removing customer friction and enhancing customer experience,” the bank said in a statement.

Ms Lazarus will take on the banking CEO position from Mr Flood, who will move to become Heartland Group deputy CEO on 1 November 2022 following a “comprehensive handover” to Ms Lazarus.

In his new position, Mr Flood will take on responsibility for the organisation’s organic growth across New Zealand and Australia, and “applying Heartland Bank’s successful growth model in New Zealand to Heartland’s Australian entities”. 

He will also lead further strategic initiatives across the group.

“Chris’ expertise and leadership as deputy group CEO will enable Heartland to achieve its ambitious growth aspirations across New Zealand and Australia,” the bank said.

Jeff Greenslade continues as CEO of Heartland Group, with responsibility for Heartland’s activity in New Zealand and Australia.

[Related: Heartland acquires specialist lender]

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