Episode 42: Brian Hartzer, CEO of Westpac from 2014-2020, on leadership, culture and financial technology

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SALT interview with Rachel Pether

SALT interview with Rachel Pether

Hello all, I recorded the interview above with Rachel Pether from SALT (the alternative investment conference/forum founded by Anthony Scaramucci).

Michael Frazis

Portfolio Manager, Managing Partner

This Weeks Guest.

Robert Stretch, MD


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Brian Hartzer joins us to talk about his new book ‘The Leadership Star’, available from Amazon

Brian was CEO of Westpac from 2014-2020. For those who don’t know Westpac is Australia’s second largest bank with over $800 billion of assets. 

Brian discusses his ‘Leadership Star’ framework and pivotal moments in Australia’s banking history. Brian also shares his views on cryptocurrency, neobanks, alternative lenders, the Buy-Now-Pay-Later movement, and the future of financial technology more broadly.  


00:05 – Introducing Brian
03:15 – Brian’s new book: ‘The Leadership Star: A Practical Guide to Building Engagement’
06:00 – Shifting from management consulting to running ANZ’s credit card business
08:25 – Brian’s perspective on the evolution of credit cards in Australia
10:25 – The five c’s of leadership: care, context, clarity, clearing the way and celebrate
11:05 – Why the phrase ‘I’m just a teller’ is a sign of bad management
13:00 – Why cleaners are the most important workers at Disney
14:10 – ‘Clearing the way’ – what does this mean?
15:50 – How corporate and leadership culture has changed over Brian’s career
18:46 – How Brian navigated the “biggest bank failure in history”
20:25 – What led to the downfall of RBS
23:37 – Brian’s perspective on the evolution of US corporate culture
24:50 – The state of banking technology in the UK
28:58 – Why more competitors doesn’t necessarily equal better consumer outcomes
29:17 – How the banking landscape helped Australia navigate the GFC
31:35 – Behind the scenes of the Australian banking crisis in 1991/1992
32:58 – Why hybrid bank branches are the way of the future
36:15 – Multi-brand strategies and Westpac
39:30 – Brian’s thoughts on the buy-now-pay-later sector
42:28 – Will the buy-now-pay-later sector will displace credit cards?
44:58 – Views on Bitcoin and why Brian pushed through Westpac’s investment in Coinbase
49:20 – The “one and only legitimate” use case for bitcoin
50:50 – The future of neobanks and alternative lenders
54:15 – Predictions on the future of banking technology
55:45 – Brian’s pivot to working as an angel investor
57:50 – The one key takeaway from Brian’s new book

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