The key priority for Chronican at NAB

  • By Christine St Anne

Current NAB director and former ANZ Australia head Philip Chronican will take on the role as acting CEO of the bank following the resignations of both NAB CEO Andrew Thorburn and chair Ken Henry.

Speaking to media on Thursday night, Chronican said his key priorities would be to find an outstanding CEO and ensure a “board refresh” will drive the bank forward.

“NAB needs a CEO that can deliver the right culture. A culture that delivers on exceptional customer service, everytime and everywhere.

Chronican acknowledged that the bank does confront a gap between that aspiration and “where it stands today”.

“The CEO will have bring this business to the top of the mountain. When we get to the top of the mountain, I am confident the CEO will make us one of the best bank’s in the world.”

Thorburn will leave NAB at the end of the February. Henry said he would retire once a new CEO is appointed.

The bank will consider both internal and global candidates for the role of the CEO.  

Thorburn said he made the decision following the Board’s “desire for change”.  

Chronican said he was privileged to have been asked to step in as acting CEO while the Board selected a new CEO.

He said the bank already had a “clear strategy that is well executed” and signalled that NAB’s first quarter update on Friday.

He said his priorities would also be around management stability given further board renewal and a CEO succession.

"I recognise the important responsibility in stepping into this role at a difficult time for NAB,” he said.

“I am confident in our existing strategy to transform the bank to be better for customers and will work with everyone at NAB to earn the trust and respect of the community.

“Our strategy and the self-assessment we completed into our culture, governance and accountability set out clearly the steps we need to take to change and we are committed to them.

“We will also ensure NAB continues to play its crucial role in backing customers and business to grow, and in supporting the broader economy.”

The announcement follows a challenging week for the banks after Commissioner Hayne singled out both Thorburn and Henry in his final report. Hayne said the pair had not learned from the lessons of past misconduct.  

Henry said it was a “sad day for the bank” but had time to reflect and understood that the bank had to meet community expectations and was “deeply sorry” that he was unable to do that and that his departure will give the bank the “opportunity to reset”.