Clement May Blogs

Riding the crest of the African banking wave

Welcome to Clement May Africa (Pty) Ltd.

Since January 6th this year, we have been open for business at our new office in Nelson Mandela Square, Sandton, Johannesburg.

Why Africa?

We have been working on the African story for the last 3 years from our head office in London and have been very successful in helping our clients on the African continent (including South Africa) meet their strategic goals in terms of building on-the-ground teams, mainly in Nigeria and Kenya but also in Ghana, Angola, Mozambique, Namibia, Botswana and South Africa.

In mid-2012 we decided that the business case was there for us to expand physically into Africa, and Johannesburg was immediately chosen as our new address. Johannesburg because it is quickly emerging as the Sub Saharan hub for banking activity.

• Barclays Africa have earmarked Johannesburg as their Sub Saharan HQ after the merger of ABSA and Barclays.

• Standard Chartered is in the process of moving their SSA (Sub Saharan Africa) HQ from the UAE to Johannesburg.

• Citi is currently in the process of moving their SSA hub to Joburg from London.

• Ecobank has a large representative office in Johannesburg and a lot of their top management are based here.

• All of the big South African banks (Standard Bank, FirstRand, Nedbank) are ramping up their operations north of the border, and all their activity is obviously spear-headed from Johannesburg.

• JP Morgan, Goldman Sachs, Deutsche Bank, HSBC etc. are all in Johannesburg, and while their Joburg offices are mainly dealing with South African business, it is only a question of time – in our view - before they will also define Johannesburg as their hub for SSA activity. Presently, these bulge bracket banks and running their SSA activity from London or Dubai and a few dedicated executives from those banks are busy flying around the continent, originating business and executing it out of London (generally referred to as ‘briefcase bankers’).

Banking activity in SSA in intensifying. Everyone is realising that “the last frontier” holds a lot of promise and everyone wants a slice of the pie. We at Clement May Africa have been growing with this story for the last three years, and are now true Sub Saharan specialists. Many recruitment firms make this claim today (they all want a slice of the pie as well) but very few are able to deliver. In fact, they are South Africa specialists and have very little or no actual experience placing top bankers on the ground in SSA and little or no understanding of the diverse cultural and regulatory differences between African countries.

A Twenty Year Story

We believe this is a twenty year growth story, and while the wave is gathering momentum, only very few specialist recruitment firms with the aforementioned local knowledge and presence, coupled with a global network of African bankers and Financial Services Professionals will be able to surf it professionally.

We at Clement May Africa are in an excellent position. A position of success and growth. We are partnering with some of the main contributing banks, and hence are ourselves contributors to the general growth of the African middle classes, who are being empowered and enabled to live better lives as a direct result of the increased capital flows, and we will continue to surf with the balance, elegance and diverse local knowhow required to stay on top.


Frank Behrendt

Managing Director

Clement May Africa