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Wednesday, 04 October 2023 21:33

FirstRand names Mary Vilakazi as its next CEO in a massive shake-up.

By Lehlohonolo Lehana.

JSE-listed FirstRand Group has appointed Chief Operating Officer (COO) Mary Vilakazi as its new CEO, effective from April next year.

Vilakazi, also becomes the group's second black leader after Sizwe Nxasana.

The financial services giant which is the holding company of one of the country's big four banks First National Bank, announced a string of leadership changes that will all take effect as of 1 April 2024.

Vilakazi will succeed Alan Pullinger, who is set to step down from the role in April next year.

Having joined the JSE-listed financial services group in 2018, Vilakazi brings a wealth of experience, previously serving in various capacities at Momentum Metropolitan Holdings, including CFO and deputy CEO.

The appointment signifies a significant step towards gender diversity in the leadership of major financial institutions.

Vilakazi praised the outgoing CEO for his leadership during his tenure and further expressed delight at taking on the top job next year.

"I take over at a time when the portfolio is in good shape in all of its jurisdictions," Vilakazi said.

"The things that set FirstRand apart from its peers and enable it to outperform remain firmly in place. Our portfolio of leading brands, our top-quality talent, our unique and long-standing culture of empowerment and accountability, and our relentless focus on shareholder value creation will continue to underpin the group's success on my watch, "she said.

Pullinger became CEO in 2018, after having been with the institution for two decades.

Commenting on his exit and appointment of his successor, Pullinger expressed confidence in the team entrusted with the banking group's future.

"We have all worked together for many years, in a collegiate and empowering environment, to execute on a consistent strategy to deliver growth. FirstRand’s business philosophy means that we behave and think like owners and the entire leadership is collectively and individually invested to deliver on the group’s commitments to its shareholders, customers, and employees."

"It has been a tremendous honour and privilege to be a part of, and to lead, FirstRand and I have full confidence in handing over the baton to Mary and her new leadership team," he added.

FirstRand also announced that board chairman Roger Jardine will step down at its AGM at the end of November and will be succeeded by Johan Burger and he will take over chairmanship from December.

After ten years as CEO of FNB, Jacques Celliers will take up a new role with executive responsibility for the group’s fintech strategy, which is to develop revenue streams from activities ancillary to financial services.

Celliers said: "I am grateful for the time I spent at FNB, it was an honour to lead such a committed and innovative team. Together we built a market-leading digital institution, with great customer propositions delivered on a well-constructed and agile platform."

"I am excited to now give dedicated focus to some of the really innovative offerings currently sitting in FNB. These offerings have resonated with customers but have the potential to materially scale, both within our own customer base and eventually the open market."

Harry Kellan will take over as CEO of FNB after ten years as CFO of FirstRand.

Kellan joined FNB in 2005 and spent seven years as CFO, after which he was appointed FirstRand CFO in 2014. Kellan's long tenure at FNB prior to his group role positions him well to now lead the largest customer franchise in the portfolio. As a long-standing member of the retail and commercial executive committee and the FNB advisory board, Kellan has been involved in shaping many of the key strategies FNB is executing on.

Kellan said: "Going home to FNB is an exciting prospect. I feel energised at the prospect of leading a motivated, already high-performing team and work alongside them to shape the future of these famous brands, FNB and WesBank. I am inheriting a great business in great shape, with a brand recognised for excellence in innovation and exciting customer propositions. I believe the insights and learnings I have gained as group CFO can bring new perspectives to the business, in particular unlocking greater collaboration with the wider portfolio."

Kellan will be succeeded as group CFO by Markos Davias, the current CFO of FNB. Prior to transferring to FNB in 2020, Davias was CFO of RMB from 2015.

Firstrand said Davias's tenure as CFO of the two largest franchises in the group make him the ideal candidate for group CFO. He has worked closely with Kellan for over a decade, and this will ensure a smooth and efficient handover.

Gideon Joubert, currently the CFO of the group's broader Africa portfolio, will take over from Davias as FNB CFO, he will be succeeded by Taufeeqa Waja, currently the head of finance for the broader Africa portfolio.