Equity Group CEO Dr. James Mwangi is among Kenyan bank CEOs who have the much sought after ‘skin in the game’, with major stakes in the organizations they lead. In his decades-long career with Equity, Mwangi has grown it to one of Kenya’s two biggest banks, and spread Equity’s wings across the region with banking subsidiaries in five other countries – Uganda, Rwanda, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Tanzania and South Sudan.
Mwangi owns 188.6 million shares in Equity Group Holdings Plc or 3.4% of the company. This stake forms the cornerstone of his fortune. With Equity closing Tuesday, July 20 at Ksh37.70 a share on June 20, 2023 at the Nairobi Securities Exchange (NSE), Mwangi’s shares currently have a market value of around Ksh7.14 billion.
Mwangi’s stake in Equity also earns him a pretty penny in dividends, particularly with the continued strong performance of tier 1 banks in Kenya in recent years with Equity at the front of the pack. Besides telco Safaricom, banks have continued to represent some of the busiest trading counters at the bourse.
Mwangi was the top dividend earner among Equity shareholders as the financial services group paid out a Ksh4 dividend per share this year following its stellar performance in 2022, when it recorded 14.6 percent growth in net profit to Ksh44.8 billion. Mwangi, thanks to his 3.4% stake, earned Ksh685.3 millions in dividends. This is without his multi-million shilling earnings and bonuses as CEO. To put it into perspective Mwangi’s dividend payout represented more than the net annual earnings of over a third of companies trading at the Nairobi Securities Exchange (NSE).
Mwangi owns other assets, including stocks in companies such as insurance giant Britam and real estate including a 3-acre piece of land in Muthaiga worth over Ksh600 million.
The 61-year old Mwangi started his career as an auditor at PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PWC), before moving to Ernst and Young and, next, spending three years at Trade Brank. In 1991, the chapter of his life that would come to define him began as he left his job as group finance controller at Trade Bank to join Equity Building Society (EBS), the precursor to Equity Bank.
Mwangi joined Equity as Finance and Operations Director and was taken under his wing by Equity’s founding Chairman Peter Munga. He held the role until 2004 when he took over as CEO. At Equity, he secured his stake and is credited with vastly increasing the bank’s customer base and regional presence, and has received countless accolades over the years for his efforts to drive financial inclusion.
Notably, he also established the Wings to Fly scholarship program credited with helping thousands of bright, underprivileged children to secure quality education.