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By David Ellis | 12-03-2014 10:00 AM

CEO of the Year Candidate Goes Beyond the Bottom Line

Westpac CEO Gail Kelly has driven more than financial results at Australia's oldest bank.

David Ellis: Gail Kelly, CEO of Westpac Banking Corporation (WBK), has been nominated as a finalist for Morningstar's CEO of the Year award.

Gail has had a very successful, close to seven-year tenure at Westpac as CEO, starting in the depths of [the global financial crisis] in early 2008. Her track record has been very impressive. If you look at the financial metrics, Westpac has consistently generated strong return on equity. They've got world-leading cost/income ratios. So, the productivity at Westpac is very good. Westpac also benefits from the lowest loan losses of the four major banks in Australia. So, risk management is a key priority at Westpac, and Gail has driven that very successfully over the last five or six years in particular.

Looking at the financial metrics, there's a whole range that supports Gail's nomination as CEO of the Year. But more importantly--or as importantly--there is a range of nonfinancial metrics [on which] Westpac shines, and Gail has been a major driver of those over her nearly six to seven years as CEO.

Westpac currently has the highest customer-satisfaction rating of the four major banks in Australia. Gail has proactively driven the need to have as many female senior executives appointed as possible.

Westpac is recognized as one of the most sustainable banks or corporations in the world. So, along with the hard financial metrics, which are very impressive and demonstrate her clear leadership capabilities particularly of allocating capital with very strong return on equity, we feel that Gail has consistently demonstrated a broad range of characteristics that really do ensure that she deserves the award of CEO of the Year.

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