The Commonwealth Bank has appointed the former operations chief of a $2 billion Lehman Brothers-owned hedge fund to a senior strategy role overseeing its major wealth management businesses: Colonial First State (CFS), CFS Global Asset Management (CFS GAM) and CommInsure.

David Lane, former senior vice president of LibertyView, which was closed by Lehmans subsidiary Neuberger Berman following the big investment bank’s collapse, began work as general manager, wealth management strategic development at the Commonwealth Bank in the last fortnight.

He is responsible for “positioning these businesses in the marketplace competitively and constantly improving them, looking at organic versus inorganic growth,” Gregg Johnston, chief financial officer of the wealth management division of CBA, said.

Lane will report into Johnston but also work closely with the head of the $70 billion CFS platform, Brian Bissaker; the boss of the $150 billion CFS GAM, Mark Lazberger; and Paul Rayson, who leads CommInsure, the country’s second largest group insurer.

It was expected that Lane’s time in the corporate finance and M&A advisory businesses of JP Morgan will inform the work that awaits him at CBA. He and Johnston worked together in the investment bank’s Sydney office for seven years until 2002, after which Lane returned to New York to join LibertyView.

He landed back in Australia with his family after the fund closed, and last year attempted to start a boutique asset management business, which would buy stakes in promising managers yet to gain scale, with the backing of a private equity investor.

But despite keen interest from managers, the venture did not eventuate. “There are plenty of businesses out there looking for capital – the capital is the hard part,” Lane said.

The greatest challenge to setting up the business was finding patient investors: “Seven-year money is hard to find,” he explained.


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