Lloyds Banking Group appoints global CMO

Suresh Balaji is joining Lloyds Banking Group in the role of CMO, with oversight over its brand, marketing and experience functions.

lloydsLloyds Banking Group has appointed Suresh Balaji to the position of CMO, a role he will take up from 16 October. He was previously global head of marketing and communications at Standard Chartered Bank based in Hong Kong, and prior to that was CMO of the Asia-Pacific regions for HSBC.

He has been tasked with growing the group’s brands, including Lloyds Bank, Halifax and Bank of Scotland, and enhancing customer experience.

The position at Lloyds has been held by interim CMO Simon Watts, who has been at the business since 2009, since February this year. He was appointed to the temporary position following the departure of Lloyds’ previous long-standing chief customer officer Catherine Kehoe, who joined Nationwide at the start of 2023 in the dual role of chief marketing and corporate affairs officer.

Balaji described his appointment as a “once in a lifetime opportunity”.

He said: 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 currently ranks in the middle of YouGov’s BrandIndex when it comes to consumer perceptions of banking and building societies’ brand health, with an overall score of 8.9. For context, Barclays sits at 7.1 and NatWest at 7.5, while Nationwide has the highest score at 20.

Jayne Opperman, chief executive officer for consumer relationships at Lloyds Banking Group said: “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.”

In February 2022, Lloyds announced a £3bn tranche of investment in diversifying its revenue. At the time it was stated that investment was designed to “deepen relationships” with existing customers by making its channels simpler and more personalised to use. That is the challenge that Balanji has inherited.