National Australia Bank (NAB) chief executive Cameron Clyne is to retire from the Clydesdale Bank parent group in August, aged just 46, blaming the “personal toll” of the job and the need to spend more time with his family.
Clyne, a former management consultant, will be succeeded by Andrew Thorburn, who replaced him as boss of NAB’s Bank of New Zealand subsidiary when he took the top job in 2009.
Although Clyne said leading an organisation with more than 42,000 employees had been the most rewarding role in his career, the job had taken “a personal toll” and he felt now was the time to retire from executive life.
Clyne has a son and daughter, aged 12 and eight. He said: “I am leaving to spend some much-needed time with my young family. I am proud that I leave NAB as a strong, customer-focused bank.”
Thorburn, who has three grown-up children, joined NAB in 2005 as executive general manager of its retail arm. The Melbourne-born career banker, who has an MBA from Durham University, will get a basic salary of A$2.2 million (£1.2m), with the potential to more than double that in short-term bonuses.
Given Clyne’s relatively young age, his decision to retire caught the market by surprise, but analysts said there were no signs he had been forced from his position. NAB chairman Michael Chaney said the outgoing boss had been given the option to stay for a further three years, but Clyne quipped that he wanted his marriage to last longer that his stint as chief executive.
Chaney said: “Cameron took over as chief executive during the global financial crisis and developed an effective strategy to steer the bank through a challenging period during which it has undergone significant cultural and structural change.”
Under Clyne’s leadership, the group embarked on a cost-cutting drive at Clydesdale Bank in a bid to turn around the fortunes of the Glasgow-based lender, which also owns Yorkshire Bank.
He described the group’s UK arm as a “problem asset” last year, and while analysts at Credit Suisse had suggested that NAB could boost its market value by spinning off Clydesdale as a separately-listed entity, Clyne insisted he would not rush into a “desperate fire sale” that shareholders did not support. For the year to September 2013, Clydesdale delivered a pre-tax profit of £127m, compared with a £183m loss the previous year, after slashing 1,400 roles as part of its turnaround strategy.
As well as shedding staff, the group has closed business banking centres in southern England to focus on its “key heartlands” of Scotland and Yorkshire.
The firm last week said it would also close 28 “unsustainable” branches across the UK, including 16 in Scotland, to deliver a one-off saving of £5m.
Clydesdale chief executive David Thorburn – no relation to the group’s incoming boss – said: “I am very grateful to Cameron for his support over the last few years and I look forward to working with both Cameron and Andrew in the coming months.”
Clyne became chairman of Clydesdale and National Australia Group Europe in July 2012 following the retirement of Sir Malcolm Williamson. A spokesman for the lender said it has yet to decide who will take over the chairmanship role.