Co-op Bank to open 6 new branches deepening its reach

Cooperative Bank Group Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Gideon Muriuki/FILE PHOTO

By Philip Mulee

Co-operative Bank of Kenya has bucked the industry trend where several lenders have rolled back their brick and mortar footprint, and is expanding physical outlets to add onto the current 152 branches in Kenya.

Six new Co-op Bank branches are underway in Chogoria-Meru, Kapenguria, Maralal, a third branch in Eldoret, Kenyatta Avenue Nairobi and at the new Parliament Tower in Nairobi.

In a statement from the Bank, the decision to determine need and location of new branches is determined through rigorous market research.

Hand in hand with expansion of brick and mortar, the bank is equally investing to expand Digital Banking that includes mobile banking, an expanded 24-hour contact centre, 585 ATMs, internet banking and over 12,000 Co-op Kwa Jirani bank agents available countrywide.

Alternative service channels continue to grow in popularity to handle upto 88% of customer transactions, with Mco-opCash mobile wallet having registered over 4.6 Million users and disbursed loans worth over Kshs 14.4 billion as at the close of first half 2019.

The new branches do not typically increase headcount as they are usually staffed from existing teams, following the branch transformation and digitization program implemented under the Soaring Eagle project that has enabled agile resourcing of the business.

Banks have been making cost savings by rolling back their branch network as some customers prefer to use online banking services, what informs the decision to buck this trend and open new branches?

Meanwhile, the Bank is recruiting Head of ICT Security and Internal Auditor.

The Head of ICT Security will provide leadership to address ICT Security matters and therefore the Bank requires a security expert of modern-day Information Technology Infrastructure experienced in leading the implementation of IT Controls. An expert on cybersecurity protection, detection, response and recovery is the person the Bank is looking for.

“The individual would be involved in the identification, analysis, evaluation, life-cycle management and adoption of security technologies and would be entrusted with providing guidance on security features of technologies in the large enterprise environment”, an advert posted in the local dailies early this month says in part.

The Internal Auditor to be reporting to the CEO Gideon Muriuki, will be responsible for the day to day coordination of the Society’s risk management and internal audit operations. The position will also examine and report on efficacy of accounting controls, information security, data integrity and adherence to operational policies and procedures, as well as reporting to all stakeholders as required. The position will also manage staff within the internal audit function.

Co-operative Bank hired an additional 182 employees in the year ended December, joining a few lenders to expand its workforce at a time most institutions have been reducing their staff.

The new hiring raised the Nairobi Securities Exchange-listed lender’s staff count to 4,251, the highest in three years.

Its branch network increased to 155 in the review period from 148 the year before, necessitating the recruitment of more employees.

Co-op Bank chief executive Gideon Muriuki said the lender had already optimised staff numbers following the McKinsey-advised transformation programme initiated in 2014 and will, therefore, not cut staff size in the wake of rate cap and increased uptake of digital banking.

“Our staff numbers have remained stable and rising as the transformation agenda has since 2014 helped us build a lean and frugal business model that is supported by optimal staff numbers,” Mr Muriuki said.



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