Why top CBA executive switched to blockchain start-up

Rob Jesudason follows the well-trodden path from banking to fintech. The CFO's departure creates another headache for new Commonwealth Bank chief Matt Comyn.

Australia's under-pressure Commonwealth Bank is searching for a new chief financial officer, after its incumbent quit to join a cryptocurrency start-up.

Rob Jesudason will return to Hong Kong to become group president and chief operating officer at Block.one, which publishes blockchain software EOSIO and sells EOS, a cryptocurrency it says is one of the world's top five by market cap, at $12.4 billion.

For Jesudason, it's a return to Asia less than a year after he left his role as Hong Kong-based group executive for international financial services to take over as CFO on July 1 last year. He took up the role at a time of upheaval at the bank amid a compliance scandal and intense regulatory pressure that ultimately led to the creation of a Royal Commission to investigate the country's banking industry.

"We are in the midst of a paradigm shift in which global institutions are researching and adopting blockchain technology to streamline major operational functions," Jesudason told FinanceAsia on Monday, explaining his decision to leave the banking industry.

"This role at Block.one is an opportunity to shape the future," the former investment banker added.

Founded in January 2017, Block.one is a provider of business-grade blockchain-based  technology solutions. A key audience for Block.one is blockchain developers, according to the company's chief executive Brendan Blumer, a serial entrepreneur who founded at least four different businesses prior to his latest venture.

Jesudason, who started out as a lawyer, was previously head of emerging markets in Credit Suisse's financial institutions group and had also worked for JP Morgan, Barclays, GE Capital and McKinsey.

For Comyn, who took up his role in April, it's another vacancy to fill. Human resources chief Melanie Laing, institutional banking and markets head Kelly Bayer Rosmarin and chief information officer David Whiteing are all departing.

CBA said in a media release it had promoted Alan Docherty, CFO of its institutional banking and markets unit, to acting CFO.

“I am very pleased to have someone of Alan’s calibre and experience step in to act as our chief financial officer while we complete an internal and external search for the role," Comyn said.

"We are making good progress with the renewal of the bank’s executive team and I expect to provide an update on appointments to my leadership team in the coming weeks.”


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