Florence, Head of Investment Consulting Switzerland, Coutts Products and Services
I joined Coutts back in 1998; I’d previously worked as a Portfolio Manager for UHNW clients at one of Switzerland’s largest bank, following a graduate training program and a short experience in Private Banking. After 5 years, when I was looking to move to another bank I actually had quite a few offers from other financial institutions but I really liked the idea of working for one of the most prestigious names in UK private banking.
Even though Coutts stands amongst the largest foreign banks in Switzerland, the Geneva operation is relatively small and retains a true ‘family’ feel, which I really enjoyed after coming from one of the largest wealth managers in the world. As an investment professional, the highly competitive investment offering as well as the robust and disciplined investment process were equally determinant to my choice.
I’m head of the investment consulting business in Switzerland, which has teams in Geneva and Zurich. Our role, as investment specialists, is to partner with the Private Bankers to identify and structure the best investment solutions for our clients. This involves a lot of client meetings and business trips, as well as promoting the bank’s range of investment capabilities and educating prospective clients and private bankers as to our investment services and offerings.
Over the past five years we’ve had an average of over 1000 client meetings per year, each of which leads to meeting a different set of complex needs, depending on the individual. In addition to travelling to the various markets that we cover – the UK, Middle East, South Africa and Cayman Islands – there’s a strong managerial aspect to my role. As well as helping my team develop themselves I also have to keep myself informed on markets, strategy, investment opportunities, macro-economic environment and competitive landscape which are essential to my job. I really enjoy this complete absence of routine; dealing with such a wide range of clients can be challenging, as can the changing Swiss Private Banking landscape, but I still manage to strike a good balance between my career and my life outside of work.
Fabien, Private Bankers Assistant
I joined Coutts back in December 2007 after working as a Project Manager within the Health department of the State of Geneva. I was looking for an opportunity to work in the private sector, and I knew that the Private Banking division at Coutts had a great reputation as well as an international business reach. Using my language skills was important to me in my career, and working with such a wide range of clients here at Coutts certainly gives me that chance. It was my ambition to eventually become a Private Banker, but with little or no financial background, my role as an assistant is naturally guiding me into that position.
Initially, I helped the Private Banking team with the simpler tasks that they face on a day-to-day basis, but with time I learned to deal with the more complicated actions that a banker faces. I’ve been able to learn and develop at my own pace but at the same time have experienced a busy workplace, handling transactions and customers for a wide range of backgrounds.
For me, a typical day can involve handling all of the previous day’s transactions, preparing all of the transfers ordered by the customer, and executing stock exchange orders and keeping the client informed of what’s happening with their money. I also manage some of the bank’s administrative and compliance requirements, so I get to experience both sides of Private Banking. It can be really rewarding to meet with the customers face to face, because they always have something interesting to say and they let you into their lives; building and strengthening that trust is absolutely key to being successful as a Private Banker. And to get to that position, I know I’m in the right place and working with the right people. Thanks to the help of those around me, I’m able to develop all the required skills and learn on the job how to put them into practice. My colleagues push me to reach the same milestones that they faced, and always have time to personally teach me on a one-to-one basis, which I really appreciate.
Simon, Senior Legal Counsel
Before I joined Coutts as a Senior Legal Counsel in October 2007, I worked as a Lawyer in a private practice, but I was attracted to a career within the RBS group because of the multinational size and scope of their operations. In my role I’m involved in all sorts of legal aspects of the private banking environment; my work can cover areas such as HR matters, special projects in contract negotiations and large transactions, finance matters, new product launches, regulatory aspects and litigation cases. In addition to all of that, I am the line manager for seven members of the Legal team of Coutts in Switzerland. It’s thanks to this combination of managerial responsibility and a broad range of legal activities that I’m able to work alongside such a wide range of people from different backgrounds, while benefiting from a real depth of legal knowledge.
I think I’m fortunate that I couldn’t say what a typical day is for me. The variety and breadth of work can be challenging at times as every case is individual. The political aspect of working in a bank of this size was a new direction for me and brought a new level of complexity to my role, but it’s allowed me to work alongside some really interesting and talented people. Throughout my time at Coutts I’ve received all the in-house training and support that I’ve needed to get to where I am, and wherever my career path takes me I know I’m in the right place to make the most of every opportunity.
Gail, Senior Private Banker
I’ve worked within the Swiss banking industry for around 14 years now, joining Coutts in Zurich in October 2007. As a Senior Private Banker within the Asian markets, I’m able to use the professional experience I’ve gained alongside my deep knowledge of the local cultures and markets that my division covers. This involves meeting and working with a very wide range of people both internally and externally, and I’m always working on creative new ways of extending our business relationships even further.
A lot of my working life is spent in client meetings, reviewing portfolios and looking for the best solutions for that client, depending on their needs or risk level. Additionally, there’s an international aspect to the role; I travel from time to time to meet stakeholders and clients face-to-face, and to extend the banks international reach into the these markets.
My division handles a great deal of work in some unique market environments, but I’m always given the freedom to perform and take control of my business areas. There’s no micro-management here; everyone puts trust in each other’s expertise, and we’re also offered the training to extend our skills even further. It’s thanks to this that my team and I are able to work closely with such a broad range of clients, and collaborate with them to help put the market on a firm and solid footing.
I’ve worked in banking for over 20 years now, joining the RBS group in November 2009. Having gained a long and experienced career within the treasury and dealing world, I knew that Coutts had a well respected name in this field, so when a job opportunity presented itself, I knew it was the right move for me. Throughout my career I’ve learned that you need to be open minded to succeed in banking, as well as being disciplined and be able to show ‘joined-up thinking’, which are skills that have helped me in my work with Coutts. People may think this profession can be very serious and stuffy, but having worked in finance as long as I have, I know that there’s room for humour in the Treasury and dealing world, which really helps.
I’m the Head of Banking Products & Treasury, which means that I am the guardian of the balance sheet, looking after the bank’s capital and liquidity, as well as handling security dealing, foreign exchange and money markets. I really love working with the markets, knowing that my work changes every day as the world changes – and of course no two clients are the same, so my role has a great deal of variety. Day to day, my responsibilities include the treasury function including capital and liquidity management, dealing floor, meeting clients, as well as people management to look after the team. As well as the markets aspect, that’s what I enjoy most about my role – working closely with a wide range of staff, and helping them get the same level of enjoyment from their work as I get from mine.
Goh Kong Peng, Senior Private Banker
II 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
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.
Akhila Narayanan, Private Banker
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.
Audrey Lim, Client Relationship Associate
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.
Adelaide Thompson, Private Banking Assistant
I joined RBS in 2003, and I definitely didn’t come from a typical banking background. Before becoming a Private Banking Assistant with Coutts, I’d trained as a professional actress, and had been on tour for a year with a production of the musical Whistle Down the Wind. I love to sing, it really cheers me up and hopefully makes other people happy too, and I think it’s that attitude that helps me every day when I’m looking after clients. Alongside my Private Banker, we do everything to offer the best possible service to high net worth individuals, and it’s fantastic to see that they really appreciate what we do.
I’d actually worked with RBS as a temp during the summer holidays, and then between acting jobs, and I really came to appreciate the values of the organisation. When I decided to take a step back from acting and look for a full-time job RBS was a natural choice, and I soon fell in love with my job and the Coutts brand. There’s so many options available to develop myself personally as well as professionally, and I know if I want to push myself and move into a different role, that opportunity is there – although I really can’t see myself leaving the Coutts brand at the moment.
Alan Marshall, Senior Client Partner
As a Senior Client Partner for Coutts, I’m lucky enough to work with some really fantastic people. I manage a team of six bankers in the Executive Client Group and personally look after around 150 high net worth individuals – people like the CEOs and FDs of major businesses.
Along with my team, I deliver wealth management solutions that meet a wide range of individual needs, so my job is really all about understanding my clients and the world they’re in. It’s really fulfilling to make those connections with new clients, build successful working relationships with them and earn their trust through providing a service that matches all of their requirements, and the demands on them and their businesses. Day to day I also manage my team and make sure they’re focused, happy and are working together to help our clients, and achieve our targets.
I joined RBS in 2003 and was initially attracted to the strength and breadth of the group and the amount of exciting brands that are part of it – I’d found Coutts particularly inspiring. I knew that RBS took care of their people and really recognised the good work across the group and rewarding individual achievements.
I’ve got a pretty active lifestyle, so I’ve made the most of all the benefits on offer, like ‘Bike to Work’ and the life cover package. I fly planes in my spare time, which I think inspires some of the qualities I need to do my job well – it gives me the confidence and tenacity to react to a huge number of different situations and make important decisions that people rely on.