Succession Talk

There has been a lot about succession in the news today:

  • Legendary investor Warren Buffet outlined his succession plan for his company and shareholders.
  • Also, legendary World Cup match predictor, Paul the octopus (and beloved by gamblers anonymous), died in his sleep in Germany, without leaving a successor.
  • NIC Bank held a succession planning clinic for its customers and entrepreneurs
  • This is also the week in which retiring Safaricom CEO Michael Joseph is being feted every other day somewhere in Nairobi while his successor Bob Collymore waits in the wings.
  • And at Equity Bank, CEO James Mwangi finally addressed and put to rest the matter of his succession. Announcing the banks Q3 results (with group asset of Kshs 136 billion ($1.6 billion) and profits of Kshs 6.4 billion ($80 million), he was asked about a long-standing issue with some with investors and shareholders – ‘what would happen to the bank if something happened to him?’

His answer? Profit would go up because he’s currently highly paid, and his style over 18 years has changed to one who takes less risks! On a serious note, he pointed out to several of the bank’s current managers who had more experience and knowledge than he did (but he is better than selling himself), and would form a pool from which the Board could pick out a successor. Some of the people he pointed out, and who may succeed him, include Gerald Warui (his principal deputy), Mbaabu Muchiri (ex-Coca Cola and Central Bank who reduced housing bad loans), Michael Wachira (ex-Fortis), Allan Waititu (brought Finacle to the bank & automation and is now in charge of new projects), Samuel Makome (ex-Citibank), Bildad Fwama (ex Citibank, British American), and Mary Wamae (who negotiated the first ever conversion of the Kenyan build society to a bank, the Helios deal, and regional investments in Uganda, Sudan, and currently in Rwanda and Tanzania which are aimed to open in Q1 of 2011)

He also noted that with his busy activities outside the bank at (Vision 2030, Advisor to UN & World Economic Program), he has delegated a lot to the point that he is not a signatory at the bank and does not sit on any of the seven board committees.

6 thoughts on “Succession Talk

  1. Peter G. Mwangi

    Dr.James Mwangi has continued to do a marvelous job at Equity Bank for many years now.While it is inevitable for us to talk about who will succeed him,I personally I feel it is not yet time for him to go untill Equity Bank has finally spread its roots in the region. He is the man to take Equity bank all countries in Africa.

    On the other hand should someone else succeed him,the we can only hope that Dr. Mwangi has established a strong corporate culture that will guarantee the bank’s succes long after he is gone;For some inspiration he can follow what Andy Grove did at Intel.

  2. MainaT

    Thanks for the bit on Equity. For a long-time, there has been unsubstantiated rumours that he runs Ekweity like MJ used to run Safcon.
    The truth is quite different. Although he is the strategic visionary, others do the running. Infact, Mary Wamae does most of the running (she is equivalent of a COO).

  3. bankelele

    Peter Mwangi: He’s not about to leave, and has many ambitious goals for the bank – SA, NBK (;-])

    MainaT: True that has been the perception, that its a one show. But its a high pressure environment for executives below him, and that was another concern raised

  4. First body

    Dear Banks,
    I hope you wont mind me asking you as former/current insider why are banks so reluctant to move customers from their brick and mortar services to internet banking.
    With the coming of mobile banking banks are rushing to join this platform which is fine for a lot of people. But most of the big banks don’t service the small scale people (except Equity & maybe Co-op) which mobile platforms target. To keep their middle to upper class customers happy why don’t they create secure internet banking that is functional and channel their clients in that direction as opposed to mobile banking. Cant they see they are placing to much control on telephone operators.

    I have wondered why banks arent offering internet banking and pushing their clients in that direction? Is the cost to high? Are they to lazy? Don’t tha laws exist in Kenya to govern internet banking?

    That said I am looking for a bank that has a functional internet banking service. Beyond just checking my balance. If you could be kind enough to inform me and others through one of your very informative blog post. which banks have and the functionality level of the internet banking and the costs.

    I currently bank with barclays which is the most unintuitive, unimaginative, uninnovative, blood/money sucking, customer unfriendly bank ….. I have banked with and I have only banked with 3 banks including posta/postbank.

  5. Mashatall

    Succession talk in Africa is avoided like the plague, both in the corporate and political front and its refreshing to see leaders being able to open up and discuss the subject openy. The Moi era kinda made the subject a hush hush topic and it was taboo to even think about it!!! how times have changed, anyways in Africa the mobile platform will triuph over internet, and fortunately most transactions are moving that way although the internet still rules in terms of reach, especially with the dispora who are best served by this medium. Most companies in Kenya have not really embraced ecommerce, but it will be interesting to see which way mobile commerce goes since we are setting the trends for the rest of the world.

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