Craigs Investment Partners has appointed a new chief executive after poaching him from rival financial services firm ASB.

Simon Tong will take on the top job at Craigs moving on from his current role as executive general manager digital, data and brand at ASB.

Craigs’ former chief executive Frank Aldridge announced his departure from the role in March after 16 years at the helm.

Sir Ralph Norris, chair at Craigs and once a CEO of ASB, said he was pleased to announce the appointment.

“Simon has a strong background in technology and strategy and is highly regarded as a leader who has driven change, performance, and customer-centricity at the companies he has worked with.

“As Craigs embarks upon the next phase of its growth, the board determined that Simon’s track record and leadership attributes are those characteristics that fit our ambitious objectives.”

Tong has been with ASB for nearly four and half years and was previously CEO of Paymark and Fairfax NZ.

Norris said he hoped to have Tong in place by early October.

Tong is Auckland based and will spend time at both the Auckland and Tauranga offices, he added.

Norris said he hoped that Tong would help it beef up its digital offering.

“I think it is fair to say our digital offering is not as good as it should be, particularly when you look at what the future is for younger investors. They want a much better digital experience than what we are offering them currently. We see the experience that Simon has is very appropriate for where we want to go as an organisation.”

Norris said Tong also had significant leadership skills.

“He has got a great ability to motivate people and create teams and good strategic outcomes.”

Asked it was looking to launch an online broking service Norris said he couldn’t comment at this stage.

“I can’t comment on our plans in that area but certainly the current offerings that we have are not contemporary. We need to be moving forward in that area. You will see announcements in that regard as we get closer to launching those, but that is a little way off at this point.”

Norris took over as independent chairman of Craigs in March from founder Neil Craig who has temporarily stepped into the CEO chair to fill the gap.

“It wasn’t something that I was looking for. I was approached about the role by the directors here at Craigs and I had to think long and hard about whether I was interested in taking on another chair role. I had my arm twisted up my back and decided why not.”

Norris said he had also become a small shareholder in the business as well.

Asked about the irony of poaching Tong from his former employer Norris said he still had loyalty to the ASB brand but in this situation his primary loyalty was to Craigs and making sure it got the best person for the job.

“It didn’t really matter where that person came from as long as they were the right person for the role.”

Last year Craigs Investment Partners formed a strategic alliance with JP Morgan to help fill a void left after Deutsche Bank sold its 49.9 per cent stake in Craigs in 2019.

Craigs also owns a 50 per cent stake in Australia investment firm Wilsons.

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