WHEN senior Japanese finance ministry officials retire at the tender age of 55, a lot of them end up as senior executives or highly paid advisers in the financial services sector. The ceremonial process is known colloquially in Japanese as Amakudari, or descent from heaven.
A similar trend is happening in Australia, too. The latest descending angel is Ken Henry, who has just been appointed to the board of ASX, the country's leading exchange operator, in addition to his existing directorship at National Australia Bank.
Dr Henry is following in the footsteps of his predecessors at the nation's top economic agency, including former mentor Ted Evans, who recently finished his term as the chairman of Westpac banking group.
Apart from Henry and Evans, there is a cohort of former senior Treasury brass active in the Australian and international banking industries.
Dr Henry's former tax division boss at the Treasury, David Morgan, is running the European and Asia-Pacific investment businesses of J. C. Flowers, a global private equity business in London. Before his foray into the international banking scene, he was chief executive of Westpac and a director of BHP Billiton.
One of the most famous Treasury alumni, at least publicly, is Bernie Fraser, a former Treasury secretary and governor of the Reserve Bank, who appears regularly in TV commercials for industry super funds. He is chairing the new Climate Change Authority and was more recently chairman of Members Equity Bank, as well as a director of two of Australia's largest superannuation funds, AustralianSuper and Cbus.
Another senior ex-Treasury official active in the banking industry is the deputy CEO of ANZ Bank, Graham Hodges, who was the Treasury's senior representative at the International Monetary Fund, the Washington-based international lender.
Descent from heaven a well-worn path
WHEN senior Japanese finance ministry officials retire at the tender age of 55, a lot of them end up as senior executives or highly paid advisers in the financial services sector.
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