Lloyds hires new group CMO from Standard Chartered

Suresh Balaji 2Lloyds Banking Group has finally appointed a permanent chief marketing officer, eight months after handing the role to former director of operations and operational communications Simon Watts on an interim basis.

Suresh Balaji joins the group from Standard Chartered Bank, where he was global head of marketing and communications, leading the function across consumer, private and business banking, based in Hong Kong.

Prior to this, he spent 17 years at HSBC, where he held various regional, country and global leadership roles, latterly as CMO for the Asia-Pacific region. His earlier career includes marketing and sales roles at United Breweries, WPP and GSK.

At Lloyds, Balaji will oversee the group-wide brand, marketing and experience function. He will be responsible for creating and maintaining the group’s portfolio of brands, developing marketing strategies, driving creative excellence, and designing customer experiences to contribute to business growth.

It is not known whether Simon Watts will work alongside Balaji; he has worked at Lloyds in various roles for over 14 years.

The move comes 18 months after the group set out a its new strategy, with the mission of “Helping Britain Prosper”. This brings together various themes, such as the cost of living and sustainability.

Although Lloyds Bank is the largest brand in its stable, the group owns a wide range of brands including Halifax, Bank of Scotland and Scottish Widows. The group achieved net income of £18bn in 2022, up 14% year on year.

The group appointed Ogilvy Experience as its new one-to-one and digital marketing agency earlier this year, with a brief to build what it calls “deeply personalised customer communications experiences”. Adam & Eve DDB handles the advertising account; Zenith scooped the media in 2021.

Suresh, who has recently relocated to the UK, said: “To be Lloyds Banking Group’s CMO at this point in its history is truly an honour and a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

“Lloyds Banking Group has helped millions of customers prosper over the course of its history, and there is no better time to be joining than now – to grow our brands, build world-class experiences and get creative for the wide range of customers the group supports.”

Lloyds Banking Group chief executive for consumer relationships Jayne Opperman added: “I’m delighted to welcome Suresh to Lloyds Banking Group. As a highly accomplished marketing leader with an outstanding track record in financial services, his passion to create digital and data-led change will help us make a huge difference for our customers. I know he’ll be a great addition to our team.”

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