Nationwide has appointed Debbie Crosbie as the first female chief executive in the building society’s 175-year history.
The 51-year-old, who has led the turnaround of the troubled bank TSB as its chief executive since May 2019, will take over from Joe Garner, who has run Nationwide for the last six years.
Crosbie will start at the country’s second-largest mortgage lender in the first half of next year. Nationwide did not disclose her pay; however, it is expected to be in line with the £1.2m Garner currently receives annually.
“Following a thorough and rigorous selection process, she emerged as the outstanding candidate to lead Nationwide,” said Kevin Parry, Nationwide’s incoming chair. “She brings significant banking experience combined with deep operational and technological knowledge.”
Crosbie follows in the footsteps of Alison Rose – whose appointment as chief executive of Royal Bank of Scotland in 2019 made her the first woman to lead one of Britain’s biggest banks – in taking a chief executive role in the male-dominated British financial sector.
Analysts welcomed Crosbie’s appointment, with Goodbody praising the “remarkable turnaround in financial performance” at TSB after she led a “relentless restructuring effort”.
The stockbroker said: “We think she is an excellent choice for the Nationwide chief executive seat, and we wish her well in the new role.”
Born and raised in Glasgow, the daughter of an engineer and a care worker, Crosbie studied business at Strathclyde University before moving to London to join the Prudential graduate trainee scheme.
In 1997, she joined Clydesdale Bank, which later became CYBG. While acting chief executive there, she led the preparation for its demerger from National Australia Bank and subsequent flotation. However, after missing out the top job at CYBG, which has since become Virgin Money, she went on to take the helm at TSB.
Crosbie’s move to Nationwide comes as the banking sector faces the prospect of an imminent increase in historically low interest rates, against a backdrop of falling unemployment and higher inflation. In October, the Bank of England’s chief economist said he expected to see inflation surpass 5% by early next year.
Nationwide is the UK’s biggest mutual, owned by its members, and sees itself as acting as a balance to the high street banks, often offering better deals because it does not have to respond to shareholders.
“Nationwide’s mutual status, combined with its trusted brand and market-leading customer service, make it a purposeful and unique force for good,” said Crosbie. “I’m delighted to be asked to lead the society in its next phase of growth.”