Rand Merchant Bank

Case Study

Rand Merchant Bank

Mergers for Value Growth


Rand Merchant Bank (RMB), a successful investment bank acquired First National Bank (FNB), a leading commercial and retail bank much larger than RMB. The merger, making them one of Africa’s largest banks with a global footprint, was fraught with both cultural and strategic challenges.

FNB was very structured and strategic in its business thinking while RMB was agile, opportunistic, and had a stellar reputation for entrepreneurship.

CEO Paul Harris understood by choosing either culture over the other, valuable talent would be lost. This had to be prevented. Knowing that large mergers seldom create true shareholder value, Paul Harris engaged Lapin as his strategy and cultural integration consultants for the merger.

Wherever we have gone it’s always been grassroots and a new approach to something. Innovation and change is what we are all about.
Paul Harris
The FirstRand Banking Group


To align leaders and employees from all levels at both companies, Lapin designed a common philosophy to inspire employees from both organizations with a passionate commitment to the new entity. They also built strategies for RMB to quickly convert the merged entity into an engine for immediate and sustainable growth of shareholder value.

Focusing on both the human and strategic dynamics of the merged organization, Lapin aligned these with the Bank’s financial strategy. Understanding the dangers inherent in such a large merger, Lapin and the Bank’s leadership worked to seize the opportunity that could be gained with the right culture and philosophy in place.


  • After deep, probing research of the cultures leadership capabilities and strategic thinking of each entity, Lapin designed and implemented a series of customized leadership programs, short results-driven strategy sessions, and individual coaching.
  • Developing cohesive, focused, and energized units helped produce lasting effects at scale.
  • This strategy impacted every area of long-term growth and the Bank has consistently exceeded expectation in nearly every form of measurement for over twenty years.


Rand Merchant Bank created cohesive teams with personnel from both of the merged entities at every level. Because the new business philosophy designed for the merged Bank was congruent with the cultures of each of the merging organizations, it resonated with everyone and enlivened the new entity.

Performance improved in all areas through innovation and meaningful cross-learning that opened the doors to hitherto unimagined competitive space. The teams from both companies performed better than before, and kept its best talent without exception.

The newly formed organization was much more powerful than the individual companies had previously been. The FirstRand Banking group became and remains a dominant powerhouse in its market.

The CEO attributed the successful cultural and strategic integration in large part to the work done with Lapin.

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