While most other banks are downsizing, the Ecobank Group continues to grow at a dramatic pace and is looking to recruit new people. Twenty-one years after its start in Togo with a capital of $32 million, Ecobank now has a presence in 27 African countries, assets of $8.3 billion and employs over 10,000 people.
Despite recent setbacks, such as a joint share and rights issue which only raised about a fifth of the $2.5bn planned, Ecobank is still turning a profit and planning to expand further into “middle Africa”. Plans to move into Gabon, Tanzania and Zambia this year are on track, despite the economic slowdown. “Now that foreign investors are in retreat, African banks must step in to fill the gap,” says chief executive Arnold Ekpe, chief executive.
“We do have a recruitment process for new subsidiaries focused on attracting local banking talent and new recruits,” says Ekpe. “Our approach is typically to identify and attract new talent rather than recruiting from existing banks. We are looking for people in all areas of banking, including technology and operations, retail, wholesale and transaction banking and treasury.”
Despite the emphasis on hiring and training up juniors, Ekpe says they’re also open to hiring experienced candidates in some areas and that job cuts at other banks are making it easier to do this. “But with the downsizing of banks in the more developed markets, we hope this will release some talent for Africa and we welcome the return of African financial expertise,” he says. “Thanks to the reverse brain drain there has never been a better time to hire talent, especially in financial services.”
Ecobank is recruiting in several East, West and Central African countries but not in South Africa directly. Last December it announced a strategic partnership with Nedbank to create a pan-African banking network covering over thirty countries.
“Precisely because of this alliance with Nedbank, we do not have to build a large presence in South Africa,” says Ekpe. “We will be relying on Nedbank’s South Africa network.” Nedbank will in turn rely on Ecobank’s African network. The two groups are a perfect fit, says Graham Dempster, chief executive of Nedbank Corporate: “Both adopt decentralised business models where they base responsibility and decision-making close to the clients in the individual businesses.”