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AMP and BT announce changing of the guard

A heightened sense of optimism amongst much of the business community perhaps partially explains the number of appointments and retirements that seem to be occurring at present.

Insurer and wealth manager AMP (ASX: AMP) has announced the appointment of Mr Gordon Lefevre as Chief Financial Officer (CFO), replacing Mr Colin Storrie who had only been with the company since 2011. The change of CFO comes just two months after the announcement that Mr Craig Meller, who has been with the insurer for over a decade, will replace Mr Craig Dunn as Chief Executive Officer, effective from 1 January 2014.

Rival wealth manager BT Financial Group (ASX: BTT) has also announced a changing of the guard. Chairman Brian Scullin, who has led the firm through its listing in 2007 and oversaw the recent acquisition of J O Hambro, is retiring and will be replaced by Mr James Evans, who has held a number of senior roles within the financial services sector.

Also of note this week has been the Annual General Meeting of Australia’s largest listed investment company (LIC) Australian Foundation Investment Company (ASX: AFI), which saw long-serving Chairman Mr Bruce Teele retire from the board and replaced by Mr Terrence Campbell.

Foolish takeaway

The importance of high quality directors and managers at a company cannot be overstated. Many fund managers pride themselves on the number of companies they visit each year. Getting out and meeting with management teams to gain a deeper understanding of the way they think and operate can provide significant insights into how successful they may be at running the business.

One way of identifying managers who are likely to act in the interests of shareholders is to focus on companies either run by the founders or where the managers have invested a significant amount of their own wealth into the company. By having their financial interests aligned with those of other shareholders increases the likelihood that managers will focus on improving shareholder value and not simply acting in their own best interests.

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Motley Fool contributor Tim McArthur owns shares in BT Financial Group.

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