Aus & NZ: AMP chair resigns amid advisory scandal

30 April 2018 - 12:00 am UTC

AMP Chairman Catherine Brenner has stepped down, amid mounting pressure for her resignation following revelations from a commission tasked with investigating misconduct in Australia’s financial services industry.

Brenner will be replaced by Mike Wilkins who will step into the role of executive chairman, effective immediately, Australia’s largest retail and corporate superannuation provider said on Monday (30 April).

The resignation comes just ten days after the departure of AMP’s CEO Craig Meller. The company also announced on Monday that group general counsel and company secretary Brian Salter will be leaving.

AMP are fielding internal and external candidates for both the CEO and chairman roles and are also recruiting for a new non-executive board director, Inframation understands.

While the scandal does not directly affect AMP’s investment management arm – AMP Capital, which manages its infrastructure portfolio – there have been calls for the company to be split up in the wake of recent disclosures.

ASX-listed AMP’s share price hit a five-year low at AUD 3.98 (USD 30.2) this morning before recovering to close at AUD 4.04. Its share price ended last week at AUD 4.02, down from AUD 5.47 on 8 March.

The Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services was announced by Australia’s Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull in November 2017.

Since then, a report commissioned by AMP’s board into the charging of fees for no service has come under scrutiny.

It emerged that AMP Group’s general counsel requested numerous changes to the report compiled by law firm Clayton Utz. The commission is disputing the independence of the report.

The board said it was “unaware of the number of drafts and the extent of the Group General Counsel’s interaction with Clayton Utz during the preparation of the report,” the statement from AMP said.

It added that the AMP Board is satisfied that Brenner, Meller and the other directors did not act inappropriately in relation to the preparation of the report Clayton Utz report into the no-fee-no-service practices.

Brenner said her resignation is “a step towards restoring the trust and confidence” in the financial services giant.

Brenner, Meller and Salter may not be the only AMP scalps claimed by the scandal, however.

The results of an ongoing external employment review will be completed shortly, the statement said. This will determine, “the employment and remuneration consequences for the individuals within the business responsible for the fee for no service issue”.

AMP is also cutting fees paid to all its board directors by 25% for the remainder of the 2018 calendar year.

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