NAB splits product from advice in NZ

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The New Zealand subsidiary of National Australia Bank, BNZ, has split its wealth management division along product and advice lines, hiring an executive from the Australian parent to fill one of the new roles.

Following the redesign, current BNZ head of wealth, Donna Nicolof, has been named general manager private bank and wealth advisory while Australian import, Peter Forster, takes on the product role.

As BNZ general manager wealth, Forster is responsible for managing the bank’s investment offerings including KiwiSaver, new middle-market fund range YouWealth, and Private Wealth Series products as well as the recently-expanded in-house research team.

This August BNZ lured Russell Investments consultant, George Thomson, across as senior investment analyst after hiring former Nikko Asset management fixed income analyst, Tim O’Loan, the previous month to a similar role. Thomson and O’Loan will work alongside incumbent senior investment analyst, Chris Stephens, in a team headed by Louis Nel.

Russell Investments has yet to find a replacement for Thomson.

Sharon Mackay retains her role as manager wealth strategy and products post the reshuffle.

Previously NAB general manager wealth customer engagement, Forster has spent more than a decade with the bank and sister firm, MLC, in various senior roles based in Australia and Asia.

Nicolof, meanwhile, will focus on high net worth client relationships and BNZ’s diverse advisory network of private bankers, wealth advisers and support staff.

During her four years as BNZ head of wealth, Nicolof saw funds under management grow from $1 billion to more than $5 billion during a period that almost matches the lifeline of the bank’s KiwiSaver scheme. Since launch in mid 2013, the BNZ KiwiSaver has consistently been one of the fastest-growing schemes in the market with funds under management now north of $1.6 billion.

Both Nicolof and Forster report to BNZ chief customer officer consumer and wealth, Paul Carter.

In a statement, Carter said the wealth restructure would “enable further growth and innovation so BNZ can help more people be good with money as they build their wealth over their lifetime”.

Despite the structural change, BNZ wealth advisers would continue to share physical space with members of the business banking team, BNZ Partners, headed by Shelley Ruha.

After her appointment this January, BNZ chief, Angela Mentis – also previously with NAB – has cleaned out the bank’s top ranks with departures including: David Bullock, director of products and technology; Martin Gaskell, director of customer fulfilment services; Richard Griffiths, BNZ director of transformation and enterprise performance; and, David Maloney director of strategy and planning.

Like all of NZ banks, BNZ is also under scrutiny from the country’s banking and financial services regulators looking for evidence of behaviours highlighted in the ongoing Australian Royal Commission investigation.

David Chaplin, Investment News NZ

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