Expansion into Africa is serving South African banks well and providing significant opportunities for employment.
Standard Bank, the continent's largest, has pursued the most active and successful African diversification strategy. In 2008 profit from its African operations increased by 46% to R1.8bn, a performance Standard Bank Ceo Jacko Maree has described as "unbelievable".
Determined to strengthen its footprint in the 16 countries outside South Africa it operates in and also keen to expand into new ones through acquisitions, Standard Bank is looking for skilled people to employ.
"We have always looked out for good people, but now we are on a specific recruitment drive because we need more, - says Clive Tasker, CEO of Standard Bank Africa.
Tasker says it's easy enough to find junior staff. But for more senior, high-profile, specialist functions they tend to look internationally, with a focus on hiring flexible staff able to move from one country to another.
He adds: "Specific skills are hard to find, especially in the most difficult technical areas such as global markets or risk management. We use a combination of traditional methods, from recruitment agencies to our own ads, from networking to unsolicited applications. Recently there has been a massive increase in the number of unsolicited CVs we get from Africans who were working abroad, in the City or on Wall Street, but also from Europeans."
Standard Bank is not alone in needing to recruit people for their African operations:
Johannesburg is becoming more and more of a base for a determined expansion into promising countries.
"All the South African banks are recruiting for positions in the continent, hiring both here and locally - says Debbie Goodman-Bhyat, managing director of Jack Hammer Executive Headhunters in Cape Town. "First National and Absa, for example, are growing their operations in Zambia, Namibia, Mozambique and other countries. It is a definite upward trend and one that is likely to last."