Surge in demand for experienced African bankers

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News Release

Surge in demand for experienced African bankers

4 November 2010

International banks keen to expand their presence in Africa, like Standard Chartered and Barclays, are competing with South African banks for African candidates who combine knowledge of the continent’s markets with years of experience on Wall Street or in the City.

London tends to be the first port of call, says Njambi Ngunjiri, relationship manager at Global Careers Company (GCC), an international recruitment consultancy: “London is the place to find experienced candidates. Banks in Africa tend to do their graduate recruiting locally, but come here to look for critical and rare skills, people who have worked in the City for an average of seven years.”

A few days ago GCC held its tenth ‘Careers in Africa’ summit in London, the second this year due to demand: “There are growing career opportunities this year compared to 2009,” she says. “One notable change is that the Summit used to be focused on South Africa, Nigeria and Angola while now it has become much more of a Pan-African event. Countries like Kenya, Zambia, Tanzania or Uganda are coming to the fore.”

Banks like Standard Chartered, for example, attended the summit to find talent for their offices all over Africa, while South Africa’s First National Bank wanted IT banking experts for their global transactional services and Nigeria-based United Bank of Africa described it as a “must-attend event for recruiting top African talent”.

Candidates are attracted by the prospects: “In the last few years candidates were keen to leave the UK because of the economic slowdown,” says Ngunjiri. “But now what drives them is the sheer wealth of career opportunities in Africa, the knowledge that things are really happening back home.”

While South Africans used to dominate high-level banking, candidates from other African countries are now increasingly competing for jobs – and getting them.

African bankers might also in many cases be more realistic in their pay and role expectations and therefore easier to hire than South African ones, says Veronique Parkin, partner at Heidrick & Struggles in Johannesburg: “We have found that several SA bankers in London have expectations in terms of a role in South Africa that does not match their experience and hence they find it more difficult to find opportunities.”