Mr Wade resigned as AMP Australia chief executive last week over conduct issues, including allegations that he sent explicit text messages to female colleagues. That followed a group-wide staff revolt stemming from revelations in The Australian Financial Review that the company promoted Boe Pahari to chief executive of AMP Capital despite the executive being penalised $500,000 following a settlement of a sexual harassment claim by a female subordinate.

“These are very separate matters,” Mr De Ferrari said.

“We’ve already discussed to the extent that we were prepared to discuss the Boe matter. And I think the facts stand there. On Alex, I’ve already commented. I’m not really going to comment on speculation of what I’m reading in the media,” he said.

When Financial Review columnist Jennifer Hewitt asked whether these decisions reflected Mr De Ferrari’s “judgement about the right people to drive culture change in your organisation and to deliver for clients and shareholders”, Mr De Ferrari said he made “tough decisions every day”.

“We have delivered material achievements on our results,” Mr De Ferrari said. “I would love for this to be, to get some questions on results and how the business is going and what we’re doing for our clients. I think I made my position clear on the matter, I am not going to comment on speculation on this stuff. I’d be happy to take another question.”

Mr De Ferrari said he was not “trying to evade” questions about the unexplained and abrupt departure of Mr Wade, but that he needed “to ensure that I can maintain the privacy and confidentiality of these matters”.

“I need to have an environment where our employees feel free to speak up and feel that it is safe for them to speak up and raise concerns,” he said.

“Because if I compromise on this, I will not have fulfilled my role as CEO. And so as hard as it is, the matters have been dealt with, they have been dealt with appropriately, and my job is to move the organisation on, on things that matter in terms of clients and shareholders.”

In a subsequent interview with the Financial Review, Mr De Ferrari said: “If I

want to run an organisation where employees feel safe to be able to speak up, that happens with me respecting the integrity of the process.”

“Reading about facts and allegations in the headlines of newspapers does not help me make my employees feel safe, so that is not in the interests of our shareholders or employees,” he said.

Following the revolt by employees in early July, Mr De Ferrari pledged to establish a group-wide integrity office, a new “cultural taskforce” to boost female employees in leadership positions, and to appoint consultants to help them achieve the goal. AMP is yet to appoint the consultants, after making the pledge at an internal town hall meeting on 10 July.

“Driving cultural transformation will now be my number one focus in the second half,” Mr De Ferrari said.

Amid the backlash about Mr Pahari’s promotion, Mr De Ferrari admitted AMP – which only has one woman on its eight-person executive team and which lost all three female board directors and its female chairman during the Hayne royal commission – was falling behind on its goal of promoting women to 40 per cent of leadership roles.

AMP shares have lost 20 per cent of their value since the revelations at the start of July. The stock has lost almost 40 per cent of its value since Mr De Ferrari was appointed.

“If you look at our share price I would say personally clearly also it’s not where we would like it to be,” Mr De Ferrari said.

“I fundamentally believe the intrinsic value of the business is significantly higher than what is expressed in our share price. What I can do as CEO and with my executive team is to continue to drive the strategy hard,” he said.

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