Isaah Mhlanga RMB’s new chief economist


Financial services company Rand Merchant Bank (RMB) has appointed Isaah Mhlanga as chief economist, effective from 1 July.

Mhlanga also joins RMB as head of research for its Markets unit on 1 February.

With more than a decade’s worth of public and private sector experience, Mhlanga will succeed Ettienne Le Roux, the company’s current chief economist, who will be joining FirstRand Treasury later this year.

Speaking about his appointment, Mhlanga said his focus will be on repositioning RMB’s Markets Research team and creating added value to institutional and corporate clients in South Africa, on the African continent as well as in its other regions, such as India, the UK, and the US.

“RMB Markets Research’s efforts will continue to bring insights that assist our clients in navigatinhg the highly uncertain times we are currently witnessing while highlighting opportunities presented to grow their business,” Mhlanga said.

“Expected recessions in major economies and trading partners present a challenging backdrop for South Africa’s economic prospects, which have already been dimmed by economic policy inertia, persistent load-shedding, and high unemployment and poverty levels,” he said.

During his tenure, Mhlanga will endeavour to enhance efforts in understanding how a range of issues impact clients’ business over the long term, citing rising global interest rates, particularly in RMB’s African markets.

Those, he said continue to present challenges for fiscal and balance-of-payments funding, as well as climate change, which is disruptive to human settlements, coastal infrastructure, and prices, he said.

RMB CEO Emrie Brown said: “Many of the economies that our clients operate in, are experiencing challenging times. It is therefore key for us to have a top economist like Isaah as part of the team to offer our clients valuable insights to inform their strategies.”

Before joining RMB, Mhlanga served as Alexander Forbes’s executive chief economist.

During his career, Mhlanga has also held the role of economist for lender Absa, and has also served in National Treasury’s economic policy unit. His career began at the International Monetary Fund’s regional office in Pretoria, where he was an economist.

He is also a trustee of Study Trust, and a non-executive board member of Kutlwanong, non-profit organisations specialising in the education sector.

Additionally, Mhlanga is also a fellow of the Economic Research Southern Africa (Ersa).

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