KCB eyes diaspora for new managing director position

Joshua Oigara, Kenya Commercial Bank's chief executive. Photo/FILE
Joshua Oigara, Kenya Commercial Bank's chief executive. Photo/FILE  Nation Media Group

KCB Group has widened its search for a new managing director to include expatriates and Kenyans in the diaspora in a review of the lender’s executive suite.

The bank has placed an advertisement in The Economist magazine after running a similar job search in local media last month for the head of its Kenyan business — a position currently occupied by James Agin in an acting capacity.

This is part of a review of the regional lender where heads of its subsidiaries, including Uganda, Tanzania, South Sudan, Burundi and Rwanda, report to Joshua Oigara, the group CEO.

“We are on lookout for expatriates and Kenyans in the diaspora but this does not mean we are overlooking local talent. We are broadening our search,” said an executive at the bank who sought anonymity.

If KCB taps an expatriate, it will follow a path it took in 2001 when the it hired Briton Gareth George from Barclays Bank to engineer its turnaround.

Analysts, however, reckon that the bank may be eying the growing list of Kenyans in the diaspora who are looking for opportunities back home.

“I think the bank is looking at Kenyans in the diaspora rather than expatriates and it’s a trend developing in Kenya’s financial services,” said an executive at PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC).

Its rival Barclays Bank of Kenya tapped a former Standard Chartered (Tanzania) CEO Jeremy Awori as managing director of the Kenyan unit in February following the promotion of Adan Mohamed who moves to the Africa office as chief administrative officer.

National Bank of Kenya in August replaced Reuben Marambi with Munir Ahmed, a local banker who was then working for Standard Chartered Bank in South Africa.

Equity Bank has also tapped Kenyans in the diaspora in the race for a larger share of the corporate lending market that is dominated by big banks like Barclays, Kenya Commercial Bank and Standard Chartered.

Local banks are hiring executives from international banks in a bid to replicate the business model in what could raise stakes in the lending market.

Human capital has become the most sought-after resource for market share growth in the local banking industry where business ideas are being copied with speed.

For KCB, it needs an executive to man the Kenyan business as it prepares to widen it international business to include southern Africa, Ethiopia, Somalia and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

This is informed by the lender’s bid to reduce its reliance on the Kenyan market, which accounts for 90 per cent of its earnings.

The Kenyan business had assets worth Sh304.1 billion in December, which still makes it the largest bank in Kenya. Equity Bank, which has foreign subsidiaries, had assets worth Sh243 billion in December while Standard Chartered had Sh195.3 billion.

The face of KCB’s executive team is set to change as the bank seeks a new company secretary, CFO and audit director besides the Kenya MD. Top executives at KCB have taken an early retirement, paving the way for the Mr Oigara to hire a young team to guide the lender.