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Corporate

Sidian head hunts Chase staff to drive SME unit

Sidian Bank CEO Titus Karanja (left) and board chairman James Mworia during the recent event. PHOTO | FILE
Sidian Bank CEO Titus Karanja (left) and board chairman James Mworia during the recent event. PHOTO | FILE 

Sidian Bank has poached approximately 38 staff from the collapsed Chase Bank, pointing to the lender’s intention to deepen its ties with small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

The Centum-owned bank formerly known as K-Rep has also head-hunted a similar number of employees from banks such as Equity, CfC Stanbic and KCB, taking up key positions of branch, operations and regional managers.

Chase Bank, which was put under receivership by the regulator in April, fashioned itself as an SME-focused lender providing tailored services to small businesses.

Sidian’s raid of its human resource department is intended to tap the key talent experienced in handling the SME customers.

Sidian, a tier-three lender, recently rebranded and unveiled new business units -- enterprise, corporate and institutional banking – seeking to grow its customer base through delivery of tailor-made services.

“In order to fill capacity gaps occasioned by creating the new units, we went looking for individuals who had proven themselves as the best in the industry.” Titus Karanja, Sidian chief executive said in an interview.

“Over the past year, we have hired approximately 38 individuals from different banks to fill various positions. From Chase Bank alone, we hired a similar number.” Sidian’s head of credit risk, Anne Makau, was hired from Equatorial Commercial Bank (now Spire Bank) while Jeanne Waluchio, the head of human resource, came from Samsung.

The lender’s head of treasury Theo Osogo came from Cooperative Bank while Marianne Nyangi, the newly-appointed director of Business Development, was tapped from Chase Bank.

Chase Bank, which is currently being managed by KCB, is an SME-targeted lender, with a significant portion of its loan book dedicated to this critical customer care segment.

Just before it went under, Chase Bank had secured Sh5.05 billion ($50 million) from the African Development Bank (AfDB) for on-lending to SMEs particularly those run by women and youth in sectors like agribusiness and trade.

Chase employees were renowned for being aligned with this agenda and for their customer service skills, partly explaining why the largest quotient of Sidian’s new recruits came from the bank.

Given the uncertainty occasioned by Chase being put under receivership, it is likely that many employees would have been hunting for other jobs when Sidian came calling.

The recent round of hiring has Sidian’s total workforce grow to approximately 590 and staff costs jump approximately 16 per cent year to date, against an industry average of about five per cent.

“Building human resource capacity comes with a cost. You have to invest in people in order to create wealth. We went looking for people who were looking for a comfortable salary and willing to make big bonuses,” said Mr Karanja.

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