AMP’s Mike Wilkins urged to take John Kennedy’s advice
“[It] feels like 10 years sometimes,” Mike Wilkins told analysts on Wednesday as he released AMP’s results. Louise Kennerley

In corporate Australia, no analogies roll off the tongue quite as easily as those involving the AFL.

And so at the AMP investor briefing, after the company released a 74 per cent statutory net profit plunge, JCP’s head of research David Humphreys extolled acting chief Mike Wilkins to seek inspiration from one of the greats.

Asking a question about the company’s much-delayed portfolio review, Humphreys said he’d like to preface it with a quote from AFL legend (and long-serving Hawthorn coach) John Kennedy.

“[Kennedy] said years ago at a grand final that ‘don’t think, do’,” Humphries said, continuing to note that both CBA and ANZ had in the time AMP has been conducting its review successfully transacted out of their life insurance businesses.

David Rowe

Humphries wanted Wilkins to reflect on the sentiment of his question, which is well and good. But we wonder if the 1975 grand final, the one where Kennedy made his famous speech, is the best one to invoke. After all, didn’t Hawthorn lose that final to North Melbourne? Resoundingly too: the final score (122 to 67) was the biggest margin in a grand final in nearly two decades!

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Earlier in the piece, Wilkins flagged that Wednesday’s figures wouldn’t have been a surprise to investors, due to a release made some 10 years ago. 

“I mean, 10 days ago,” he quickly corrected. “Feels like 10 years sometimes.”

Wilkins has now spent some four months as interim CEO, and his pay has been fixed at some $182,500 a month, payable perhaps till the end of the year, if AMP takes that long finding chairman David Murray’s new tsar. After watching Wilkins politely defuse every suggestion his head should be on a spike at the last AGM, we reckon he’s earned every cent. 

Speaking of which, Murray has plucked just-departed Treasury head John Fraser to join his depleted board. Like Murray, Fraser is a man with oodles of experience and solid, old-fashioned values. Fraser is a straight-talking, self-described “prick” understood to be a fan of windows that open (he had one specially installed for himself at Treasury). He has also been known to publicly thank the many “ladies” who help keep things ticking along in at the department. After individually naming all the men of course. 

New AMP director John Fraser is a man with oodles of experience and solid, old-fashioned values.
New AMP director John Fraser is a man with oodles of experience and solid, old-fashioned values. Alex Ellinghausen

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