Trustees Executors (TE) head, Rob Russell, is to leave the business in a week capping off a tumultuous run of top-level departures at the firm.
It is understood TE has already lined up a successor for Russell, who ends a 12-year career with NZ’s oldest trustee company – the last five as executive director. He joined the business in 2006 as acting CFO.
Staff and clients were informed of the news last week.
In April TE advertised for a CEO offering remuneration of “$350,000-$500,000+” to head a Wellington-based “wealth management/fund administration” business boasting over $100 billion in funds under administration on behalf of more than 800,000 individuals.
“In anticipation of further growth and expansion, they are now looking to hire a motivated, passionate and agile Chief Executive Officer to strategically lead them through their next growth phase,” the job ad says.
The prospective CEO would “create a new strategic direction for the business and to design and implement large scale change to execute on that vision”, the ad says.
As well as a raft of prerequisites including experience in ‘private wealth, corporate trust, custodian services and registry/KiwiSaver’, the likely candidate would preferably “have an Ivy League / Red Brick university degree”.
“The CEO will establish a new road map and apply industry knowledge in Fund Administration / Wealth Management, customer relationship skills, technical nous and commercial acumen both operationally and strategically to support the business during the next phase of its development,” the ad says.
Russell’s exit comes after a slew of senior resignations this year including: John Winch, former TE head of private wealth; head of governance; Mel Hewitson; client services manager, Sean Roberts; and more recent governance hire, Peter Wells.
A number of other governance staff have also left over the last few months.
In December 2017 another long-time TE top executive, David Mansfield, head of business development (and integral to the firm’s lucrative fund administration arm) departed after nine years in the role.
More recently, TE board member Franceska Banga resigned after less than year in the role leaving just Russell, Switzerland-based David Neidhart, and Andrew Scott-Howman in Wellington, as directors.
It is understood both Neidhart and his employer, John Grace – who heads TE’s ultimate owner, Swiss firm Sterling Grace – were in NZ over the last few weeks.
Both Neidhart and Russell declined to comment.
TE operates three main business lines: wealth management; supervisory (traditional trustee services); and, the most-profitable fund administration arm. Last year TE retained its biggest fund admin client, Fisher Funds, following a highly-competitive bidding war. However, the firm recently lost the registry contract for the $5 billion plus Milford Asset Management.
Over the 12 months to September 30 last year TE reported a net profit after tax of about $9 million.
In 2015 TE was shopped around in Australia with a reported offer of about $150 million then on the table.