Power Move

CBA surprises with new boss

The Commonwealth Bank's announcement that Ian Narev will replace chief executive Ralph Norris comes as a shock to some banking buffs who think him too young (he's 44-years-old) and too inexperienced (only four years in the game) to run Australia's largest bank.

Some were especially surprised by the choice of Narev for the appointment, given CBA's head of retail banking Ross McEwan was widely considered to be Norris' heir apparent.

But Narev's track record as an influential, intellectual and strong leader won the directors over, despite the fact that he only took up a senior post at the bank in 2007.

He will replace the "$16 million man" and fellow New Zealander Norris in December.

Narev won't be compensated as well as Norris – at least not just yet – but will still take home an annual salary of $2.5 million, with a total of $5 million in short and long-term incentives.

A child TV star in New Zealand, Narev was a leader of the Jewish youth community in Auckland, won a scholarship to study law at Cambridge and completed a stint at New York University to further enhance his legal credentials.

Prior to joining CBA, Narev spent nine years as a management consultant at McKinsey & Co, including two years leading its New Zealand practice.

He spearheaded CBA's acquisition of Bankwest in 2008 – one of the bank's largest ever mergers.

Narev told a press conference he has no plans to radically alter the bank's current strategic game plan.

Initially, Narev said he'll focus on using the position to update the bank's IT platforms to better suit the needs of customers.

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