RUNNING a bank, you might think, is largely about the numbers: ratios of capital to liabilities; of nonperforming loans to performing ones; of short-to long-term funding; of provisions to book size. Yet the studies of banking collapses ultimately find explanatory power not in the numbers, but in the people.The report on the collapse of African Bank by advocate John Myburgh released last week is no exception. In it, the outsized personality of CEO Leon Kirkinis looms large over the bank’s fortunes and failure.Kirkinis was, in Myburgh’s view, guilty of hubris — the "overestimation of one’s own competence, accomplishments or capabilities", which allowed him to ignore others in the bank who had argued that more caution was wise.Kirkinis was described as "extremely charismatic", "very amicable", hands-on, and likeable. His personality enabled him to talk people around when they raised objections to his decisions. Kirkinis was right, others were wrong, and most believed it, including hims...

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