Westpac names Catherine McGrath as its New Zealand chief executive – Stuff.co.nz

Posted: September 24, 2021 at 11:26 am

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Catherine McGrath, Westpac's new chief executive.

Westpac has named Kiwi Catherine McGrath as its next New Zealand chief executive.

The Australian-owned bank said McGrath would take over the role from acting chief executive Simon Power.

Power was appointed acting chief executive following the retirement of David McLean, who had headed the bank since June 2014.

McGraths last position was with Barclays Bank in the United Kingdom, where she had worked since 2013, before returning home to New Zealand recently.

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Westpac Group chief executive Peter King said: Catherine is an experienced and well-respected financial services leader.

He said McGrath's banking career started at the Bank of New Zealand.

Since then, she has driven large-scale transformations at some of the worlds best-known banks, including Barclays Group and Lloyds TSB in the UK, he said.

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Barclays was heavily criticised after the global financial crisis, as well as for its part in the illegal manipulation of interest rates, both of which occurred before McGrath was with the bank.

In 2013 an independent report commissioned by Barclays board concluded the bank had become so aggressive that it had put profit before customers.

In New Zealand Westpac is among the banks that has faced criticism from the Financial Markets Authority and the Reserve Bank.

Banks here had underinvested in systems, the regulators concluded, and part of McGraths brief will be to improve the banks digital banking systems.

In our recent portfolio review of the business, we identified ways to improve service for customers, including improving our digital capabilities, an area in which Catherine has considerable management expertise, King said.

Westpac has had recent run-ins with New Zealand regulators.

In August the bank was warned for weaknesses in its anti-money laundering systems by the Reserve Bank of New Zealand Te Ptea Matau.

In March, the bank was ordered by the Reserve Bank to pay for two independent reports into its risk governance processes.

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Westpac has coped well during the Covid pandemic, and extended the loans of households who hit financial hardship.

The Reserve Bank, which is tasked with ensuring the stability of the financial system, said the Australian-owned bank needed to take a close look at its risk governance practices.

We have experienced ongoing compliance issues with Westpac NZ over recent years, most recently involving material failures to report liquidity correctly, in line with the Reserve Banks liquidity requirements, deputy governor Geoff Bascand said.

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Westpac names Catherine McGrath as its New Zealand chief executive - Stuff.co.nz

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