Bankers of The Year
Guaranty Trust Bank
With a degree from Harvard Business School and a master’s degree in business administration, Segun Agbaje started on the path to success at a young age. Today, with more than 19 years of experience in investment and international banking, he is the managing director and CEO of Guaranty Trust Bank (GTBank), one of Africa’s leading financial institutions. Following a successful stint at international powerhouse Ernst & Young, Agabje moved to GTBank in 1991. Here, he soared through the ranks and was named executive director in 2000, followed by deputy managing director just two years later. Agabje has cultivated a comprehensive understanding of Nigeria’s banking environment, leading him to assist in the development of the country’s interbank derivatives market. Under Agabje, GTBank continues to find success, posting NGN 200bn ($560m) in profit for 2017.
Hang Seng Bank
In 2017, after holding numerous leadership positions over a nearly two-decade tenure at HSBC, Louisa Cheang was appointed as vice chairman and chief executive of HSBC-subsidiary Hang Seng Bank. Cheang had big shoes to fill: she succeeded popular CEO Rose Lee, under whose direction the company’s share price bounced up by 50 percent. So far, investors appear to be impressed with Cheang’s performance. Since her appointment, Cheang has strived to boost the firm’s use of innovative fintech; the bank plans to incorporate facial recognition technology in cash machines and, going forward, Cheang aims to bring more digital services to the bank’s corporate clients. She also has plans to expand the bank’s digital banking services throughout mainland China to capture some of the market share from state-owned giants.
Bendigo and Adelaide Bank
Marnie Baker joined Bendigo and Adelaide Bank, Australia’s fifth-largest retail bank, in 1989. She has taken on a variety of executive positions since then, including chief customer officer. In 2018, she was promoted to managing director, becoming the first woman to take on the role in the bank’s 160-year history. Among other accomplishments, Baker led the bank’s uptake of the industrywide New Payments Platform initiative and was instrumental in helping Bendigo achieve its vision of becoming Australia’s most customer-connected bank. During her time as managing director, Baker has seen the bank grow and begin to close in on the territory of the country’s four dominant banks. Bendigo and Adelaide Bank’s reputation has been boosted in recent years by its customer-focused strategy and commitment to social responsibility.
With a doctorate in business administration from the University of St Gallen and ample experience with some of the biggest names in business – including a partner position at McKinsey & Company and a leading role at Credit Suisse – Sabine Keller-Busse has long been one to watch. Keller-Busse joined Swiss banking giant UBS in 2010 and quickly rose through the ranks; she was appointed as group chief operating officer earlier this year. The COO has used her influential position to advocate for better workplace inclusivity. Speaking at the Voices of Experience: Women’s Perspectives on Leadership and Career Growth event in 2017, she encouraged attendees to be open to change and take opportunities when they arise. It’s this mindset that has earned Keller-Busse her place at the top.
Roberto Sallouti began his financial career by obtaining a degree in economics from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, before joining BTG Pactual in 1994 and becoming a partner in 1998. His expertise in the Latin American region was put to good use during his time as joint head of the firm's fixed income division between 1998 and 2008, after which he was named COO in 2008 and CEO in 2015. When Sallouti took the company’s reins, Brazil was experiencing a major recession brought on by severe political uncertainty. His ability to guide the bank through such tumultuous times is testament to his leadership skills and his financial know-how, with BTG Pactual’s Q4 2017 results reflecting a strong performance across all of the bank’s core businesses.
Soren Kring Nikolajsen
With more than three decades of international banking experience in tow, including holding senior positions at the Royal Bank of Scotland in both London and Hong Kong, Soren Kring Nikolajsen joined Alawwal Bank as the new managing director in January 2017. While the position was new, Nikolajsen was already familiar with the bank and its inner workings, having been on the board of directors since January 2014 and the executive committee from September 2015. In his current post, Nikolajsen has significantly strengthened the institution’s retail banking arm, which now accounts for around 20 percent of the bank’s total business. With its number of bank branches and ATMs increasing considerably under Nikolajsen, Alawwal Bank has successfully expanded its retail market share in Saudi Arabia.
Though a UK native, Marianne Lake has spent the past 14 years of her career in North America. Since 2012 she has worked as the CFO of the US’ largest bank, overseeing the company’s finances in addition to serving as a member of the firm’s operating committee. Lake has become a champion of using automation to tackle repetitive tasks and improve companywide operations, and has guided JPMorgan Chase through years of record-breaking profits, most recently with its 2016 net income of $24.7bn. As well as her role as CFO, Lake is the operating committee sponsor of JPMorgan’s Women’s Interactive Networks, the firm’s largest resource group, and was selected by Fortune as one of the world’s 25 most powerful women in 2017. She has since been named as a contender to succeed the bank’s current CEO, Jamie Dimon.