Thabo Dloti should rank as one of the most powerful business executives in the country when he ascends into the top of Liberty Holdings on the 1st of March 2014.
Dloti’s ascension has been coming. It was affirmed today. Liberty Holdings, the JSE listed financial services giant, announced that its CEO Bruce Hemphill is taking up a position in parent company Standard Bank Group. Dloti is taking over as Liberty Holdings CEO. He takes over a giant with assets under management of more than R600bn.
He will become the first black CEO at that level in South Africa, Group Level of a financial services giant. Dloti’s equivalent, kind of, will be Johan van Zyl at Sanlam Group or Julian Roberts at Old Mutual Group. Off-course there is Sizwe Nxasana at FirstRand but his banking world is different. There is also the joint CEO at Standard Bank Group, Sim Tshabalala. He is also more of a banker and off-course positioned like one of Dloti’s bosses which also include Saki Macozoma who is chairperson of Liberty Holdings. Standard Bank is majority shareholder in Liberty Holdings.
There is just one small matter which could dampen excitement around Dloti’s appointment. He has a deputy CEO. Liberty also announced today that Steven Braudo, currently CEO of Liberty Retail SA, has been appointed as Deputy Chief Executive. This type of deputy CEO arrangement has caused some discomfort in the past amongst economic transformation activists and mainly the hardliners like the Black Management Forum (BMF) of yesterday. As such this deputy CEO arrangement can cause some noise, the kind that followed the appointment of Dumisa Ntsebenza as chairperson of the Barloworld board in 2007 and together with an apparent babysitter, Trevour Munday as deputy chairperson. This caused the Public Investment Corporation under the then leadership of Brian Molefe to accuse Barloworld of racism. The BMF of Jimmy Manyi joined the chorus.
That was 2007. Things have changed. The hardliners seems to have taken a backseat. When Standard Bank Group appointed Tshabalala as joint CEO alongside Ben Kruger, you expected the 2007 noise to resurface. There were questions here and there but the reigning champions of black economic empowerment (BEE) kept their cool. The BMF characterised the joint CEO arrangement as a step in the right direction. The Black Business Council said it saw the arrangement as a bridge of sort. The Black Business Executive Circle joined the chorus. We divert!
The BMF has weighed in on the Dloti’s ascension saying it is “pleased with the appointment”. The BMF added that “Dloti’s appointment is a step in the right direction towards transformation, especially within the financial services sectors, and in particular against the backdrop of a growing concern regarding the low representation of black people in general to executive positions in JSE listed companies.”
Dloti (44) is qualified to lead Liberty Holdings. He is a graduate of actuarial science from the University of Cape Town. He joined the group in 2010 and was given the responsibility to head institutional business. This unit comprises STANLIB, Corporate and Properties. He is widely credited for leading the turning around of STANLIB’s fortunes.
Dloti’s role in Stanlib’s progression has been widely reported and rubber stamped by the Association of Black Securities and Investment Professionals (Absip). The association awarded Dloti last year (2013) with what it calls the ‘CEO of the Decade’ award.
Dloti (44) has over 20 years of experience in retail insurance, employee benefits and asset management. He was poached by Liberty from executive position at Old Mutual.
Liberty noted that the appointments announced today follow the implementation of a carefully considered succession plan, which will enable the group to successfully transition to the next phase of its growth and expansion.
Hemphill is going into Standard Bank Group to head up a new division called wealth, insurance and non-bank financial services.