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Citizens Advice Chief Executive to step down after a decade at the helm

26 Awst 2020

Dame Gillian Guy, Chief Executive of Citizens Advice for England and Wales, has announced she is standing down after 10 years in the role. She will take up a new position as the Independent Assessor for the Financial Ombudsman Service at the end of October. 

The national charity has seen significant growth and expansion into new services during Gillian’s time as Chief Executive. Last year Citizens Advice had over 34.5 million visits to its website and helped 2.8 million people in person, by phone, email or web chat. She also led the service through significant digital transformation - including the introduction of a national phone service, the provision of advice through web chat, and the development of the service’s award-winning case management system, Casebook.

More recently, Gillian has led the organisation’s Covid-19 response. Thousands of Citizens Advice staff and volunteers shifted services virtually overnight to offer advice and guidance to over 380,000 people in the first three months of the pandemic alone. The Citizens Advice website saw record-breaking traffic, with millions seeking its advice on how to overcome their problems. The charity's transformation led to it being nominated in the 'Change Project of the Year' category at this year's Charity Times Awards.

The national trustee board has asked Alistair Cromwell, Chief Operating Officer, to become Acting Chief Executive while recruitment for the permanent position takes place. Alistair has been with Citizens Advice for nine years and has led a number of national functions, including finance, business development, technology, governance, and transformation.

Alistair and the executive team, with the support of the national Trustee Board, will continue to lead the organisation in delivering the Future of Advice strategy, ensuring Citizens Advice can provide high-quality advice to more people across multiple channels, and influence on behalf of the people who come to the service for help.

Dame Gillian Guy, Chief Executive of Citizens Advice, said:

 “I feel immensely proud and privileged to have played a part in this essential and greatly treasured service. It has proved resilient in the face of challenge, innovative, and relentlessly focused on the needs of individuals and communities.

“I have been fortunate to work with people of passion, commitment and talent, who, with the service itself, have been at the core of my life for the last decade. 

“I am confident that Citizens Advice will continue to go from strength to strength, helping millions of people overcome their challenges in the decades to come.”

Warren Buckley, Chair of national Citizens Advice, said:

“It’s been an honour to work closely with Gillian as she has led Citizens Advice through significant and successful change. Gillian leaves Citizens Advice stronger, more resilient and more prepared to deal with whatever the future brings. I would like to thank Gillian on behalf of the national trustee board of Citizens Advice for her amazing contribution, and wish her well for the future.

“As a board we were very pleased to ask Alistair Cromwell to take up the Chief Executive role on an interim basis. We are confident that with Alistair in this role, our experienced and very capable executive team will continue to deliver and develop the service over the coming months.”

Alistair Cromwell, Chief Operating Officer at Citizens Advice, said:

"I was delighted to be asked by the Trustee Board to take on the role of Acting Chief Executive while they undertake the recruitment of a permanent replacement for Gillian, who has provided outstanding leadership to the organisation for the past 10 years. 

"Over the coming months I will work closely with Gillian to ensure a smooth handover. My priorities will be to continue the essential work Citizens Advice has been doing to help people navigate the worst impacts of the coronavirus pandemic, while keeping up the momentum on the delivery of our three-year strategy to meet the changing needs of the people who come to us for help."

Notes to editors

  1. Citizens Advice includes the national charity; the network of independent local Citizens Advice charities across England and Wales; the Citizens Advice consumer service; and the Witness Service.
  2. The Financial Ombudsman Service is a free, independent service that settles complaints between consumers and businesses that provide financial services. The Independent Assessor reviews complaints about the level of service provided by the Financial Ombudsman Service. Please contact the Financial Ombudsman’s press office for more information on
  3. Dame Gillian Guy will leave her post at the end of October, after joining the charity as Chief Executive in July 2010. Gillian was previously CEO of Victim Support, where she led a major programme of change and development of new and improved services for victims. Gillian trained as a lawyer and spent 11 years as CEO of a large London Borough. She served as a non-executive board member and Chair of the Audit Committee of the National Audit Office and also as a non-judicial member of the Sentencing Council for England and Wales.
  4. Gillian was awarded a CBE in 2015 for services to consumers, then made a Dame in the New Year's Honours list 2020 for services to the public and voluntary sectors. In 2019 she received an honorary doctorate from the University of Bristol. 
  5. The Citizens Advice network of charities offers impartial advice online and over the phone, for free. 
  6. We helped 2.8 million people face to face, over the phone, by email and webchat in 2019-20. And we had 34.5 million visits to our website. For full service statistics see our monthly publication Advice trends.
  7. You can get consumer advice from the Citizens Advice consumer service on 0808 223 1133 or 0808 223 1144 for Welsh language speakers.