Challenger has appointed Alex Bell as its next chief financial officer (CFO) after current CFO Rachel Grimes announced her decision to step away from executive positions.
Ms Bell has more than 22 years of experience in financial services across Australia and the UK, and previously held a number of senior leadership roles at Challenger including group deputy CFO, CFO of the funds management business and head of finance, group and life.
She rejoins the firm from KPMG, where she advised clients on how to navigate complex financial, accounting and regulatory change as a partner in the CFO advisory practice.
Throughout her career, she has held senior roles at BT Financial Group and AXA Sun Life Insurance, and has gained significant experience in driving transformation, process improvement and simplification programs.
Challenger's managing director and CEO, Nick Hamilton, said that Ms Bell was ideally suited for the role given her knowledge of the business and the valuable external perspective gained during her time at KPMG.
“She has built a reputation for her exceptional financial acumen, analytical approach and strong risk mindset, which are essential attributes for this role,” he said.
“Her strategic insights, leadership capabilities and fresh thinking will also be of great benefit as we continue to deliver on our strategy to expand our offering and customer base.”
Ms Bell will commence as CFO on 1 December. Ms Grimes, who was appointed CFO in March last year, will work with Ms Bell to ensure a smooth transition. In recent months, Ms Grimes has led the sale process of Challenger Bank in addition to her responsibilities as CFO.
After announcing a strategic review in August this year, Challenger has now agreed to offload its banking arm to New Zealand’s Heartland Group for approximately $36 million.
With the review now being complete, Ms Grimes said that she felt that it was the appropriate time to transition and focus on a range of non-executive director opportunities.
Commenting on her departure, Mr Hamilton said that Ms Grimes should be proud of everything she has achieved at the firm.
“She has devoted considerable energy to strengthening our finance function at a time of significant change for Challenger and the wider industry, which has included improvement in capital management and financial reporting, and the implementation of evolving accounting standards,” he said.
“I personally thank Rachel for her wise counsel, solutions-focused attitude, and commitment to our business. On behalf of Challenger, I wish her every success for the future.”
Jon Bragg is a journalist for Momentum Media's Investor Daily, nestegg and ifa. He enjoys writing about a wide variety of financial topics and issues and exploring the many implications they have on all aspects of life.