First NZ Capital's long-serving chief executive Scott St John will step down early next year after about 15 years at the sharebroker's helm.

He will be replaced by the Auckland-based company's current head of securities James Lee, who will take over as CEO on April 1. Staff were told of the change yesterday.

St John will remain a non-executive director of First NZ and chair of its audit and risk committee after stepping down as chief executive.

He said his resignation would make way for the career progression of other staff members.

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Lee, who joined the firm in 2000 and has led its wholesale markets business since 2008, said it was an exciting time to take up the top role.

In a note to clients, First NZ's board said St John had consistently promoted the company's values and culture and been an industry leader.

St John became First NZ's chief executive in 2002, the same year the company was formed through an employee buyout of Credit Suisse Group's New Zealand operations.

The firm has operated under various names in the local market for more than 50 years.