Banks Eye Diaspora Talent to Drive Growth

Kenyan banks have stepped up their recruitment of expatriates and high-flying diaspora bankers to drive growth, regional expansion and adoption of new technologies.

From left: Barclays CEO Jeremy Awori, National Bank CEO Munir Ahmed and NIC CEO John Gachora. Photos/FILE

From left: Barclays CEO Jeremy Awori, National Bank CEO Munir Ahmed and NIC CEO John Gachora. Photos/FILE

KCB, Equity, NIC, Barclays, CfC Stanbic,StanChart and National Bank have all signed new talent from abroad in recent months, helped also in part by rising remuneration packages that match international standards.

KCB Group hired Avijit Mitra as its chief information technology officer from Morgan Stanley Capital International, soon after recruiting its head of human resources from South African-based Absa.

Standard Chartered in January brought in Lamin Manjang from Oman to replace Richard Etemesi. NIC in September hired John Gachora from Barclays Africa as managing director.

Barclays got Jeremy Awori from Standard Chartered (Tanzania), while NBK tapped Munir Ahmed from Standard Chartered South Africa.

“People out there are becoming more aware of opportunities available here. At the top, Kenyan banks pay very well,” said human capital partner at Deloitte Kimani Njoroge.

“You may be having a big title out there but looking after a small unit, but here the position has more clout,” he added.

The recruitment by local banks have been helped by lay-offs during the global financial crisis which shook the confidence of Kenyan professionals in the US and European markets, forcing them to look back home for opportunities.

The banks are also seeking international exposure that is necessary to support their expansion plans. This includes the management of risks given the experience that the expatriates gained having been in international financial capitals during the global cash crunch. They are also expected to bring with them new technology that can help increase efficiency and reduce operating costs.

“The bank and the industry as a whole is going through exciting times in the technology and innovation space and Avijit will support us to navigate through it seamlessly and enable the bank to be an authority in the innovation landscape,” said the KCB chief executive Joshua Oigara while announcing the latest hiring.

International exposure is also crucial in diversifying the banks’ income streams. Johnson Nderi, a financial adviser with ABC Capital, said the banks are searching for ways of reducing their reliance on interest income and are looking out for experienced bankers to grow new business.

CfC Stanbic Bank, which is majority owned by South Africa’s Standard Group, has the lowest dependency on interest income which contributes 55 per cent of total income. The lender has four expatriates in its top management and more in the mid-level tier.

Mr Njoroge said that motivation of the local mid-to-top level managers who were relied on to build the structure and the brand of the firm was not an issue as long as recruitment were being done in an open and competitive manner.

Equity Bank CEO James Mwangi recently told an investor briefing that the lender’s group of expatriates was helping the bank to adopt global culture of doing business while the local talent was retained in the top management to ensure the local culture was not lost.

The bank has five expatriates in its executive management team. Co-operative Bank is the only big lender in terms of assets and profitability that does not have expatriates or diaspora returnees in its top ranks.

– Business Daily