Joe Gordon will replace Tracy Garrad, who, subject to regulatory approval, will be taking up the role of chief executive of HSBC in the Channel Islands and Isle of Man.
"I can't wait to lead a bank that's recognised as one of the top brands in the UK, and is constantly leading the pack for customer service," said Gordon, who will start his new role next month. "First Direct is truly focussed on delivering an amazing banking experience to all its customers.
"I'm looking forward to building on the good work of the team here and further developing the pioneering spirit which people associate with First Direct."
Francesca McDonagh, head of retail banking and wealth management, UK and Europe at HSBC, added: "I'm delighted to welcome Joe into this key role at First Direct; he's a talented leader with a proven track record of delivering excellent customer service.
"I would like to express my gratitude to Tracy for the considerable contribution she made to first direct over the last four years, and wish her all the best in her new role."