The appointment of Bill Winters to replace Peter Sands as CEO of Standard Chartered has been universally welcomed, as the troubled bank saw profits fall by 30% last year compared with 2013 levels.
A former co-CEO of J.P. Morgan investment bank, Winters is perhaps best known for attributing the 2008 financial crisis to “greedy bankers, investors, and borrowers.”
In 2011 he founded and ran private debt fund management firm Renshaw Bay in London. He also served as a member of the influential Independent Commission on Banking in the UK, which proposed “ring-fencing” UK banks’ retail and investment banking operations. He has been described by British investment banker Jacob Rothschild as being “among a handful of truly exceptional leaders in the finance community.”
Jim Antos, a Hong Kong–based analyst at Mizuho Securities Asia, says the change in top management for Standard Chartered is critical for the bank to start moving forward again. “Winters will not be sentimental about parts of the business that are performing poorly and will be in a position to make the hard decisions. We expect him to do a strategic and operating audit of the bank and to begin taking tough actions within the next year. Far more effective controls over cash management, trade finance and credit are needed to avoid the legal and financial problems of the past. We think overlapping layers of management will be eliminated and greater accountability at all levels will be enforced.”
Issues that Winters may look at in his first year, according to Antos, include whether to withdraw from Korean retail banking, pare back exotic trading activities and commodities deals, exit from perceived higher-risk activities such as private banking, make substantial credit write-downs and seek additional capital.
“[Standard Chartered] is not such a big bank,” says Antos. “It can be fixed, and it will be a real test of character for Winters.”
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