Hapoalim's incoming CEO believes in the personal approach

30-year veteran Zion Keinan has been visiting hundreds of key clients to help them grapple with recession.

A Bank Hapoalim branch 248.88 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
A Bank Hapoalim branch 248.88
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Zion Keinan, Bank Hapoalim's incoming CEO, has been working for over 30 years at the bank, eight of them as a member of the board. He began as a teller in Tel Aviv at the Rimon branch on Rehov Herzl, not far from the bank's management headquarters on Rehov Yehuda Halevi. His rise through the ranks saw him named to his first senior position - human resources manager - in 1995, and three years later he moved on to manage the southern district, where he was in charge of some 40 branches and 1,000 employees. In 2003, he became head of the retail-banking division, responsible for over 260 branches and some 5,700 employees. He was credited with making improvements and innovations in the fields of Internet banking, mortgages and training and development. He also established the Platinum Club for Hapoalim's most-esteemed private customers. In 2007, Keinan was appointed head of the bank's corporate-banking division, and has held the position since. This division deals with the bank's 7,000-strong corporate customers, including nearly all of Israel's financial elite. He has set up corporate branches, to give corporate clients swift service; five are to be opened this year, and 25-30 by 2010, with Hapoalim aiming to to close in on Bank Leumi's current advantage in the field of executive banking. Grappling with the current recession, which has created difficulties among many of the division's customers, Keinan has implemented a personal approach, the bank reports. He has met in person with more than 1,000 clients, visiting them in their factories and offices, to build relationships based on personal trust. "A client who was with us on sunny days must get as much of our help as possible on rainy days," he said on one occasion, "while naturally maintaining professional banking standards." To help cope with the crisis, Keinan established a business-support unit to assist customers encountering difficulties. This unit comprises teams of customer-contact managers, experts and analysts. The unit is credited with saving a number of enterprises, which might otherwise have reached insolvency. A director of Isracard, American Express and the Turkish Bank Pozitif, Keinan was born in Rehovot in 1955. He holds a master's degree in human-resources development and organizational development from Tel Aviv University and a bachelor's degree in social sciences from the Open University. Keinan is praised in the bank as a leader and as good-natured, but also as a sharp-minded strategist, capable of making quick decisions and implementing them according to plan. Married to Mira, a medical secretary at the Meir Medical Center in Kfar Saba, where the Keinans live, he is a father of three: Itai, 30, a portfolio manager; Gilad, 28, a student about to finish his studies in computerized animation at the New York School of Visual Arts; and Ma'ayan, 14. His hobbies include the sea, books on managing strategies and trips around the country with his family.