Banking 2020

The Definitive Industry Guide

Bankers of The Year

Any financial institution with a strong leader at its helm can expect acclaim and commercial success in the year ahead. Our 2019 Bankers of the Year have shown a particular appetite for growth and diversification


James Formby

James Formby has been part of the financial services industry since 1991, when he graduated from the University of Cape Town with a bachelor’s degree in commerce. A year later, he qualified as a chartered accountant, placing 10th in the qualifying exam. Formby was keen to develop his skills beyond accounting, leading him to complete a master’s degree in management studies at the University of Cambridge. With the varied skill set he acquired, Formby joined Rand Merchant Bank (RMB) in 1997, where he spent nine years working as a corporate finance transactor. He has remained at the company ever since, progressing through the ranks to become CEO in 2015. In the chief position, Formby has directed RMB towards a more digital strategy in order to better serve its customers and ensure the bank remains relevant in the changing finance sector.


Wei Sun Christianson
Morgan Stanley China

After graduating from Columbia Law School, Wei Sun Christianson worked as an attorney at Orrick, Herrington and Sutcliffe’s New York office, pursuing a career she felt would be respected in her native China. But following a chance encounter at a party in Hong Kong, Christianson was convinced to trade the courtroom for the corporate finance department at the Securities and Futures Commission, overseeing an influx of initial public offerings. She hasn’t looked back since. Christianson would go on to join Morgan Stanley in 1998, quickly working her way up from the bank’s investment banking division to become CEO of its Chinese branch and co-CEO of Asia-Pacific operations. Under her leadership, Morgan Stanley has broadened its onshore offering in China to include commercial banking, domestic securities and bonds underwriting, and asset management.


Ross McEwan
National Australia Bank

Ross McEwan has held top management positions for the past 24 years, during which time he has developed a reputation as something of a firefighter. This is perhaps exemplified by his time at the helm of the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS), which had been floundering in the wake of a 2008 bailout by the UK Government prior to his appointment in 2013. In just five years, McEwan was able to change RBS’ fortunes, making the bank profitable once more and chipping away at the government’s 80 percent stake. Today, the Kiwi national is working his magic at National Australia Bank, after it was accused of engaging in overly aggressive sales practices and charging customers staggering fees. In his short tenure, McEwan has emphasised the bank’s digital offering, focusing on retail banking and taking a forward-thinking approach to the problems posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.


Jean-Laurent Bonnafé
BNP Paribas

Jean-Laurent Bonnafé believes bankers should take a scientific approach to their work without forgetting the role that human feelings play in driving the finance sector. By considering both factors, bankers will better understand the cyclical nature of the industry and the human behaviours that influence the market, he says. It is this carefully considered approach that makes Bonnafé an effective CEO at BNP Paribas. He joined BNP in 1993 as a senior investment banker. Following the bank’s merger with Paribas in 2000, he led the post-merger integration process, successfully seeing the new company through the transition period. In the decades since, Bonnafé has held a number of senior roles, including chief operating officer, board member and head of retail banking. In 2011, he was appointed as CEO of the whole group.

Latin America and the Caribbean

Octavio de Lazari
Banco Bradesco

When Octavio de Lazari accepted the CEO role at Banco Bradesco in 2017, he also took on the challenge of serving the bank’s 44.5 million customers – the largest customer base of any bank in Brazil. It was a daunting task but, having worked at the company since 1978, Lazari hit the ground running in his new role. The move was well received on the stock exchange: the company’s shares rose 2.3 percent upon the announcement of Lazari’s appointment. As CEO, he has pursued a digital strategy by launching the Next platform, which functions as a digital bank, allowing users to manage their finances remotely. With 800,000 active clients, many of whom are new customers for Bradesco, the platform is boosting the bank’s growth and making it easier for Brazil’s citizens to access banking solutions.

middle east

Shayne Nelson
Emirates NBD

Since 2013, Shayne Nelson has led the United Arab Emirates’ second-largest lender as it embarks on a journey of digital transformation. Nelson has extensive experience in the banking industry, having previously held such roles as CEO of Standard Chartered Private Bank in Singapore and Regional CEO of Standard Chartered Bank Middle East and North Africa; under his leadership, Emirates NBD has launched two new digital business banks (E20 and Liv). His wide range of experience across various geographies makes him perfectly placed to lead Emirates NBD as it cements its position as one of the top-performing banks in the region. Thanks partly to its innovative new products, Emirates NBD reported the highest net profit of any GCC bank in 2019.

north america

Darryl White
BMO Bank of Montreal

Since joining BMO’s investment and corporate banking business in 1994, Darryl White has made a big impression on the Canadian investment bank and the communities it serves. Before becoming CEO in 2017, White proved a strong advocate for BMO’s diversity drive, campaigning for an inclusive workplace that serves all individuals, regardless of race, gender or creed. In 2018, he became the co-chair of the Inclusive Local Economic Opportunity Roundtable, a joint venture between BMO and the non-profit organisation United Way Greater Toronto. By bringing local business and community leaders together, the roundtable develops approaches to reducing economic disparity in the region. Put simply, White embodies the single objective that has guided BMO for more than 200 years: to boldly grow the good in business and life.