Importance of succession planning

One of the wealthiest CEOs in SA, Investec CEO Stephen Koseff says the board must decide when he should step down. But though he believes the company culture is so well embedded that the bank will survive without him, letting go won’t be easy. On the other hand some think Investec has become stale and that now, in the wake of its successful cleanup, would be a good time to name a new CEO.

Koseff remains, at least for now, the larger-than-life leader of Investec with no obvious successor waiting in the wings. He is himself “embedded” in a way that will make it difficult to hand over to Investec’s next leader.

His outsized character, whose presence seems fundamental to Investec’s culture, values and staff morale, raises questions about what will happen to the bank when he leaves. Bankers say it will be a huge blow. “I have huge respect for Stephen,” says one individual who joined the bank as an articled clerk more than eight years ago.

Whether he likes it or not, Koseff is still a dominant presence at Investec. All major deals are passed by him, and he sits even on those credit committees charged with overseeing relatively small amounts. He is far less immersed in the asset management and wealth arms of the business, but they effectively function as independent businesses anyway.

As part of its succession planning, Investec appointed new heads of its three core businesses — banking, asset management, and wealth and investment — in November 2015.

He plans to leave it to the Investec board to decide when it is time for him to go. But letting go won’t be easy.

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