When AMP Limited chief executive, Francesco De Ferrari, in late 2018 appointed Alex Wade as chief executive of AMP Australia it was viewed as De Ferrari putting his own man and fellow former Credit Suisse executive in a key position.
Wade, who peremptorily exited AMP yesterday, had spent 12 years at Credit Suisse at a time when De Ferrari was also building his 17-year career there, so it was little wonder that the market regarded Wade as being very much De Ferrari’s choice for helping him rebuild a key division of AMP in the wake of the Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry.
However, there were questions about whether two men from a largely investment banking background would fully understand the nuances of a business established around life insurance and adviser distribution.
Wade’s exit surprised many in the market because it has occurred just days out from AMP announcing its half-year results next Thursday within which it was expected to further outline progress in reshaping its wealth management business.
His exit also comes amid the confirmation by the Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC) that it would be pursuing multiple legal/regulatory issues against AMP, some related to the Royal Commission and as it fronts up to yet another class action, this time one filed by current and former financial advisers over their Buyer of Last Resort (BOLR) arrangements.
ASIC deputy chair, Daniel Crennan this week told the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Economics that at least one of the issues being pursued against AMP Limited could be brought to court in coming months.
Wade’s exit also comes as AMP seeks to deal with continuing negative publicity around its appointment of Boe Pahari as the new chief executive of AMP Capital Limited despite him being the subject of a sexual harassment issue.
Wade joined the AMP executive in December, 2018, with De Ferrari describing him as “a talented leader and strategic thinker, who will bring valued experience and relationships to AMP’s advice business”.
“The financial advice industry in Australia is in the process of renewal, and AMP and Alex will play a prominent role in driving this change. We firmly believe that financial advice is essential for helping people manage their finances, and plan for retirement.”
Wade’s interim replacement, Blair Vernon comes to the role with a very different background being qualified in marketing and having spent the majority of his career in marketing and sales before most recently being elevated to become chief executive of New Zealand Wealth Management (NZWM), in July last year.
Vernon, who had led major change as chief executive of NZWM, would commence in the role immediately, and Jeff Ruscoe will replace him as acting chief executive, NZWM.