Audrey Lim, Client Relationship Associate, Coutts
My work is about helping manage relationships with our clients, along with the private bankers at Coutts. We are like the first point of contact for the client. They come to us for almost anything they might need, especially in terms of their portfolio or investments. We not only take care of investments but sometimes we also provide assistance with travel plans, hotel reservations and restaurant recommendations. It's always a very varied day.
Typically there is a team of people working to support the client. We have the private bankers, investment analysts, product specialists, trust specialists and client relationship associates. We provide solutions based on our clients' needs, it could be wealth creation or wealth preservation. Every client is different and each has different things they need from us.
I am a people person and really enjoy the interactions in this job. I am the liaison between the clients, the back office and the traders. I also work with service providers and I have to ensure that this service is of the quality that my clients are used to. Dealing with high net worth clients means they expect excellence all the time. To succeed, tenacity is key. Making sure we deliver is vital to the trust and ongoing relationship we want to maintain with our clients and being a very effective communicator is also a critical skill.
There are many facets to me as an individual. I enjoy the arts, and watching plays and musicals brings out the more cultural side of me. I sometimes think that having to manage the various relationships in my job and co-ordinating with people so we deliver a great service is almost akin to me being a director.
Sheila Ip, Debt Capital Markets Associate, Markets & International Banking
As part of the Debt Capital Markets team in Asia there's really no such thing called a 'typical' day, every day is different, and that is what I enjoy most about my role.
The Debt Capital Markets team covers the origination and execution of an array of products, from syndicated loans, bonds, acquisition financing to debt advisory. It is very much deal-driven. Coming into the office every morning, you could almost never fully predict what will come across your desk. It could be a new client requesting a debt financing proposal or alternatively, an existing client may look at a potential acquisition which would require capital structure advice and financing ideas. Multi-tasking is the norm, most of the time I have to manage multiple projects that are at different stages, be it marketing or execution stage. One thing about being part of a product team is that clients can originate from any country and any sector. Most of all they have different needs, and that always keeps the work interesting.
RBS M&IB footprint is truly global - this is important to our business. We leverage off this platform of interconnectivity on a day to day basis. Based in Hong Kong with most of our clients living in different Asian countries, we deal with frequent exchanges across all time zones. To understand clients we rely heavily on local intelligence, and taking clients to tap the US and the European Capital Markets forms a large part of our job.
At the end of the day, our business is all about customers. As a banker, you want to deliver the appropriate solutions to your clients. It is about taking time to listen and find out their needs and their strategic plans. The whole process is very interactive, and we need to engage them. The kind of qualities a person would need to succeed in my job would be the passion for excellence. Having a mindset that you want to deliver the best to your clients will get you across a lot of hurdles. Fundamentally you always need to build your tangible skills, you need to know your own product - that's the foundation; but beyond that it is about human relationships. The key is to develop trust with our clients.
I have an active and fun lifestyle outside of work. In between the long hours and the travelling, I swim, hike, kick-box and enjoy wine tasting to keep myself fit - it is said, after all, that there are health benefits to drinking a glass of wine a day! I started kick-boxing three years ago (around the time I first joined RBS in Hong Kong). It was recommended by my personal trainer and I fell in love with the sport on my first try. Kick-boxing is about the power, focus and high energy. The quick jolt of adrenaline rush is the best de-stresser from a long day or a long week.
Angie Wong, Finance Client Reporting Team, RBS
I started my career as an intern for a chartered accountancy firm in Sydney while studying Commerce at the University of New South Wales. I love travelling, so after graduating, I relocated to London to complete the CPA Programme and discovered that an accountancy background provides many opportunities within the financial services industry. After several years in London, Hong Kong was the next logical move to continue my professional and personal development.
The Client Reporting Team currently plays a large role in helping RBS achieve its strategic objectives. My team works in partnership with the business providing routine monthly reporting but predominantly is made up of various and ad hoc projects ranging from report building and system improvements to client segmentation analysis. All these tasks combined keep the role both challenging and rewarding as we can see the direct impact our work has on assisting management in determining the overall direction of the business. What attracts me to RBS is the people and culture. There is a high emphasis on performance and on-the-job delivery but it's not all just about work. There are plenty of opportunities to get involved in social activities and community service initiatives. Recently, RBS partnered with Habitat for Humanity and we volunteered our time to help rebuild stilt houses in Tai O, a small fishing village on Lantau Island. This was a very rewarding experience personally, and as a team we worked together to give back to the community. I have always been involved in helping the less fortunate because I think there are people out there who aren't so lucky. In my leisure time, I am involved with a charity called Foodlink Foundation where we basically match excess food from hotels and food and beverage outlets to local charities. The charity focuses on helping those less fortunate in Hong Kong by providing them with food on a daily basis. In a week, we support about 800 to 1000 people who would struggle otherwise. I assist with co-ordination work as well as arranging the delivery schedules between the hotels and charities. It's a real life enhancer and makes me realise how lucky I am.
Erwin Teo, Graduate Trainee
I'm a fresh graduate from NUS Business School and joined RBS via the internship programme. I attended the programme in the summer of 2008 and was offered a position on the 2009 graduate programme amidst the economic turmoil. During my internship I was based in Hong Kong and I moved back to Singapore for my permanent role.
I'm currently a sales person doing Money Market sales. I come in at about 7:30 in the morning and have morning meetings. In these meetings we are updated on overnight news in the US and London markets and how our products were traded in those sessions. I also send out reports which summarise positions for the day and show the trades that we can chase up. After that it's really about speaking to clients and attending to the issues that crop up throughout the day, from on-boarding a new client, chasing down a trade and attending discussions for more structured trades. Everyday is different simply because in a people driven business, we deal with people who are always different. Working for RBS has been great, mainly due to the people I work with. My colleagues are always supportive and willing to teach and given that I am fresh out of school there is a lot to learn! I am also given responsibility, even though I am a trainee graduate, to take a client from the on-boarding process all the way till they are live and able to deal. While each learning curve is initially steep, I know that once I climb through it, it gets incredibly rewarding. In my free time, I enjoy music and playing the guitar. Since my university days I've had the opportunity to play with a band and music has been a big part of my tertiary education. Playing music is a great outlet for expressing any form of emotion and is a fantastic way of relaxing after a long day. In fact, playing on stage helps me with my confidence in reaching out and speaking to clients.
Helen Tse, Manager, Product MI Finance, Markets & International Banking
I studied at the University of Melbourne and graduated in pharmacology. Subsequently I continued my studies in accounting and qualified as a Chartered Accountant. Science and accounting may appear as not being connected but surprisingly these two fields have more commonalities than most people would recognise. Both disciplines require a curious mind, attention to detail, and an ability to communicate ideas to different audiences. My accounting qualification has opened many doors for me and also provided me with a wealth of opportunity within RBS.
As a manager in the finance department within M&IB, each day is different. We work closely with the business to provide them financial information that is both accurate and timely, in order for them to make strategic decisions that will affect the future direction of the business. My main skill is the ability to summarise and provide information to the key stakeholders in a format that is easily understood to all. We have daily routine tasks and there are also new projects to be involved in. These projects keep the job varied and interesting. Being in this environment is both challenging and very satisfying as you feel that you have a part to play in the decision making process. The most rewarding parts of my role are the job variety and the interaction with people. I don't just talk accounting jargon all day; I also have to liaise with local and global teams from other areas, such as tax teams, product control teams, and local finance teams. In this way, I am able to learn and share ideas and find the best solution for problems. RBS is a wonderful melting pot of people, from different backgrounds and experience, an environment which encourages learning every day. Coming from Australia and now living in Hong Kong, I find that Hong Kong is a fantastic mix of Western and Asian cultures. In my spare time, I like to absorb the local culture, learn local customs and this may include taking day trips out to fish farms, cruising on a junk trip around the Hong Kong islands, learning to cook traditional Chinese food such as rice dumplings and moon cakes or just simply indulging in Asian cuisine.
Akhila Narayanan, Private Banker, Coutts
My job in Coutts is to manage the wealth of some of the most high end achievers in their field. I manage my clients' day to day banking requirements, portfolios and investments. It's a very challenging and difficult market but also the most fulfilling. What I do is more than just promote a product it's about aiding client decisions and coming up with solutions to match their requirements. Often they are already very clear about what they want.
Working at Coutts is different; it brings to the table a legacy of over 300 years of banking. It comes with a clear and solid track record, some great people behind the team and a very friendly atmosphere in the bank. One important thing to be able to do your job well is to have the support of team members and colleagues. To be effective I need to be completely on top of my game and at my sharpest at all times. That in itself is a very big adrenaline rush for me. Dealing with the kinds of people I do is a big learning experience. I meet people who have a significant impact on the face of business in this part of the world and they are often major influencers in their field. Just being around them, listening to them, learning from them and also having the opportunity of them listening to me and agreeing with what I say is a big thrill. That's what I really love. There are no two days alike; there is always a new challenge and a new learning. This can be the easiest and the toughest job in the world. The easiest part is to sell a product backed by the Coutts name but we don't just promote the product we want to build relationships. Earning a clients trust is the hardest part. There are many people who think they offer private banking but to be successful you have to commit a large part of yourself to the role. It can be very absorbing. Some of the clients at Coutts have been banking with us for generations. Most of our clients have a legacy with us, their fathers and even their father's fathers have banked with us and it's great to see cross-generation relationships and build on these. As a private banker we need to understand that products may come and go but clients are here to stay. I love the outdoors and travelling and try and get away whenever I can. I have an absorbing job and I find that yoga really helps me to unwind and be calm. It sounds a bit new age but yoga helps me perform better as it helps me listen to my body and de-clutter my mind. It brings about a serenity which can be very useful especially in the daily demands of my job and getting everything done.
Becky Hui, Regional Market Data Commercial Manager, Markets & International Banking
I started my career in the financial industry as a technology graduate trainee at the London office, after completing my Management Studies degree at Royal Holloway, University of London. Through the graduate programme, I worked in various technology departments and found my interest in Market Data Commercial Management. I spent 4 years working along great mentors before I was transferred to the Singapore office in 2003 and became the regional head of this department.
In this role, I manage the commercial arrangement of market data systems used on the trading floor in Asia Pacific. It involves analyzing business requirements, managing vendor relationships and contracts, implementing global initiatives, inventory management and financial reporting. I love how the job is so dynamic. Even though I have been with the Bank for over 10 years, I am still learning something new everyday. The key attributes required for this role is the need to be sensitive to commercial details and the confidence in dealing with clients as they can be demanding. In order to succeed in this job, I believe you simply need to enjoy new challenges and aspire to do well. My leisure time is spent mostly with my 2 young children, Rachel and Samuel. Whenever I see them, I forget about work and get fully into family life. We do a lot of activities together; it could be swimming, shopping, watching a movie, going to the playground or preparing for a party. There are demands to being a working mother. It's sometimes hard to juggle between family life and work life. However, my managers in RBS always encourage me to have a good work-life balance. They are flexible should I need to attend to family matters. This aspect of being able to balance my time between work and family is very important to me and gives me peace of mind. In turn, it helps me to focus on doing my best at work.
Goh Kong Peng, Senior Private Banker, Coutts
I am a Senior Private Banker with Coutts. I had always wanted to pursue a career in banking and started my career as a corporate banker in 1987 after graduation. I switched to private banking with a local bank in 1990 when I recognized a growing trend towards private banking.
As a Private Banker, my job is to help high net worth clients with their wealth management needs. We work very closely with our clients to get to know them, understand their needs and tailor solutions to meet their long-term banking and investment requirements. I enjoy interacting with my clients, getting to know them well on work related matters as well as their interests outside of work. I also enjoy helping my clients achieve their financial goals by understanding what works best for them and working with my colleagues in the bank to offer the best possible solutions. I have been with Coutts for a good 15 years and this is a fantastic place to work in. The Bank is very nurturing and provides us with an environment where we can both excel in our work as well as outside of work. People here are like a family, they are very warm, friendly and supportive of each other. In my spare time, I enjoy travelling and relaxing over a good meal with friends and family. I especially enjoy fine Japanese cuisine.
Thomas Lam, Senior Private Banker, Coutts
After graduation I spent 9 years working in commercial banking and the securities industry. I then thought that my varied experience and exposure would be most relevant in private banking and so I've been a relationship manager for the past 12 years. I joined Coutts 7 years ago.
In my role as a private banker, my job involves servicing high net worth clients in Asia. Clients look for confidentiality and stability when it comes to building a relationship with a private banker. It is very satisfying to grow my client relationships and gradually become a friend and confidant. Now my clients ask me for advice and opinion on a whole range of issues - even personal matters at times. What also makes it rewarding is when clients start to involve their children in this relationship - it feels like I have a responsibility to look after their financial needs and repay their trust in me. We have a strong family culture in Coutts. There are really no borders across the bank. We can approach any colleague across rank or department for assistance or guidance, which helps enormously when we have an issue to resolve. I work with colleagues across functions to draw on various resources to service our clients and it's as easy as communicating with a parent or sibling. The sense of respect and friendliness permeates the bank. Typically, I start the day getting updated on overnight world affairs and investment market developments from the media and our market specialists. Thereafter, I will discuss client specific issues with my assistants, assign tasks and plan for the day. The rest of the time is spent talking to and meeting clients. When I'm not spending time with my family I like to participate in sporting activities of any kind or just watching the sports channel on TV which helps me unwind. I play football, I golf and I enjoy my after work runs with colleagues along the Singapore river. I also try to be involved in charitable activities and running events as part of the Coutts family. My life and work are a good mix - I thoroughly enjoy both.
Narayanan Balasubramanian, Software Developer, Assistant VP, STEM
I am 32 years old and have been in Singapore for over 2 years. I work as an Assistant Vice President in the Structured Trading & Emerging Markets (STEM) team. I am a software developer, primarily in Java programming and manage a team of three. We work on projects for front office across Asia as well as a reporting system which streamlines trading data into consolidated information. We need to ensure that the reports we produce are accurate and the traders do not have any issues.
I enjoy the challenges that IT throws up on a daily basis and the sense of happiness I get when I can resolve the issue. I derive a sense of satisfaction from being able to deliver within timelines and seeing the appreciation from the end user. To me, the customer is your boss. There is clear co-operation between business and technology support teams and I enjoy the close working relationships in RBS where the teams understand each other. Gaining the confidence of my customers gives me a sense of pride and confirms to me that this is a place where I can grow my career. I work best with people with the appetite to learn, the right personality and who make themselves an integral part of the team. We have many people with the right skills, attitude and experience. We interact daily with other geographies such as London, Europe and America and there are weekly meetings to update each other on current and upcoming projects. Dedication, commitment and having the right attitude are key. Technical competency can be learnt over a period of time, and is readily available, but the right mix of these factors can lead to a successful career in this field. I always say 'We' instead of 'I' when talking to my team members. In an IT project, teamwork is a must and so it is with cricket where everyone plays an important role. Having a great team spirit is critical for both. There is never a saturation point when it comes to learning my job. This happens on a daily basis, especially when we have to keep up with new developments. It's always changing. Work-life balance is encouraged and we plan our work well in advance to ensure that it is executed. I love to watch and play cricket and try not to miss any cricket related event. I watch it on television and subscribe to the cricket channel. We do have RBS 20-20 matches and I am a participant who always wants to win. There are a lot of colleagues that play cricket and it's good to mix away from work and be part of the (winning) team.