Under the transformation plan the was begun under former CEO Andrew Thorburn and chairman Dr Ken Henry the bank had committed to reducing headcount by 6000 people over the next three years as it pursued an agenda of automation and simplification.
A New Zealander by birth, Mr McEwan has been consistently mentioned in speculation about the bank’s next CEO since the search began earlier this year with his turnaround experience at RBS believed to be highly valued by the committee tasked with filling the role.
Mr Thorburn and Dr Henry resigned in February this year after they were singled out by Commissioner Ken Hayne in his final report. Commissioner Hayne said he couldn’t be certain the actions of the bank were consistent with its public face.
McEwan, who has a Harvard MBA, previously was group executive of retail banking services at Commonwealth Bank of Australia from 2007 through August 2012.
During his time at CBA Mr McEwan had responsibility for the bank’s branch network, contact centres and third-party mortgage brokers.
He was among the leading contenders to replace former CBA CEO Ralph Norris but ultimately lost out to former McKinsey consultant Ian Narev.
Mr McEwan took a role with RBS which following a bailout from the UK government was undergoing a period of massive restructuring and change.
Under the new arrangement acting CEO Philip Chronican will replace outgoing chairman Dr Ken Henry in November, putting an “interim management arrangement” in place until Mr McEwan arrives.
Dr Henry will resign from the board when Mr McEwan arrives.
Although he has not worked in Australia since 2012, Mr McEwan made a small contribution to the Royal Commission into misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services sector held in 2018.
During the final series of hearings on governance held in Sydney CBA boss Matt Comyn’s revealed that the two kept in contact after he moved to the UK to run RBS.
Mr McEwan told Mr Comyn to stop selling the junk insurance the bank often bundled with credit cards and mortgages or risk a scandal similar to the PPI debacle that has cost the UK banks 30 billion pounds and rising.
CBA has since terminated the sale of many of the products.
More to come