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Meet the new female CEO of Rand Merchant Bank: Emrie Brown

RMB, the corporate and investment banking business of FirstRand, announced that CEO James Formby would hand over the leadership to Emrie Brown. Supplied

RMB, the corporate and investment banking business of FirstRand, announced that CEO James Formby would hand over the leadership to Emrie Brown. Supplied

Published May 7, 2022

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RAND Merchant Bank (RMB), the corporate and investment banking business of FirstRand, yesterday announced that CEO James Formby would hand over the leadership to Emrie Brown, who would start in October.

Brown as a female executive takes the role as gender equality in corporate leadership in South Africa is closely monitored.

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In March, RCS deputy chief financial officer Tonia Pavlou, who advocates for gender equality in the boardroom, said, “The South African state of affairs in terms of gender representation at executive level is most accurately captured by the top 40 JSE-listed companies, of which only four have female CEOs.

“According to Stats SA, women make up 50 percent of South Africa’s working age population, but only fill 38% of ‘manager’ and ‘professional’ posts. Beyond that, a 2018 study highlighted that a South African woman’s median monthly earnings were 76 percent of that of her male counterpart – and this was before the pandemic, which worsened the gender pay gap globally,” Pavlou said.

Brown will head RMB, which is on a sound financial footing and in the six months to December 31, saw earnings increase 15 percent to R3.64 billion despite Covid-19 headwinds.

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Formby, who held the position as RMB CEO for seven years, said, “I am delighted to be able to pass the baton to someone of Emrie’s talent and experience. The time is right to hand over and I have the right person to hand over to.”

Brown began her career with RMB in 2001 as a transactor and became head of Leveraged Finance in 2006. In 2009 she moved to Cape Town to head up the Western Cape investment banking team. She relocated to Johannesburg after being appointed as co-head of the Investment Banking Division in July 2015.

Brown is currently the head of RMB’s Banking Division (which includes Corporate Transactional Banking, Investment Banking and Coverage), which represents the most significant portion of RMB’s total earnings. She has extensive experience in investment banking and holds strong, long-term client relationships.

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Brown said, “I am humbled and honoured to be appointed as the next CEO of RMB. I am following in the footsteps of remarkable CEOs before me that has built a business that I am proud to have been a part of for most of my banking career. I look forward to working with our diverse and high performing teams to deliver a distinctive experience to our clients.”

RMB said Formby had a number of options available to him within the broader group, which he was considering.

FirstRand CEO Alan Pullinger said: “Emrie taking over as RMB CEO endorses the group’s approach to succession planning, which is designed to ensure strategic and operational continuity at our customer-facing operating businesses. Her long and successful track record in the business and the quality of her client relationships, combined with the fact she is already overseeing the largest business unit within RMB, mean that she is the natural successor to James.

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“The group is grateful to James for his stewardship of RMB, which, during his tenure, continued to be a leader in the markets where it operates, generating growth and returns for FirstRand shareholders.”

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