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Guest Comment: Here’s how frustrated private bankers in Asia can cope

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Life isn’t easy for private bankers in Asia even if the sector is seemingly more robust than others. Wealth managers currently operate in tough and extremely competitive markets. In addition, the ongoing debate about foreign talent, news of bonus cuts and lay-offs have also dampened the mood further. The constant struggle associated with the past few years post GFC, have resonated in feelings of frustration and anxiety, which have seriously hindered motivation among relationship managers.

If you are in that boat, here’s my advice.

1) Chin up

Negative emotions can set one back even further in tough times. Those who are more successful aren’t necessarily more intelligent – it is their mindset, the belief in themselves which builds confidence to push things through more effectively. We are inundated with negative news, but it is how you choose to handle issues that make the difference.

Take what is a given and challenge yourself to build up your strengths, move forward with clear strategies, goals and action plans.

2) Visualise your problems

I was taught an excellent and simple way of assessing problems by my mentor. This is something I utilise often with my clients. Draw a circle and put a dot in the middle, and mark that dot as yourself.

The inside of the circle is the story of you – the past, the current struggles, the disappointments and so forth. The inside of the circle is what holds you back, aggravating your frustrations. However, outside that circle is the unlimited potential of who we can be. The trick is to get ourselves out of that circle. Every time we face negativity or frustration, visualise that circle and ask ourselves the following questions so as to move out of the circle:

– What do I need to do?
– Who do I need to be?
– What am I made of?
– What do I want to create?

3) Get positive social support

You are not alone, everyone is facing tough times and conditions. Yes, these are testing times, but if handled correctly, it will make you stronger. In the meantime, don’t ignore your hobbies, family and friends. Surround yourself with a support network and allow yourself to build up positive energy outside of your work.

4) Build yourself up

Work on your personal foundation and credentials, develop yourself by improving your market and product knowledge and think of ways to enhance the way you carry the message across to your clients.

Remember clients are your biggest assets; listen to them, understand them, even challenge them with sound knowledge and good questions. Do not push products, be their partner.

As for your performance measures at the office, make sure you write down every call report with as much detail as possible, show your managers how you handle the process, the actions you are taking, and what you have planned going forward. Remember to always write and store any conversations you have with clients and related communication with your colleagues and managers, take extra care with client instructions.

5) Be zen

Accept that the industry is changing and that bonuses may not be as attractive as before. Gone are the days when markets were booming and every investment provided good returns. The industry seems to be taking on a new shape, accept that and move forward. The markets are going to be tougher but a lot will be learned and people will have to up their game.

Unfortunate events like redundancies do happen sometimes, but they actually open the door to other opportunities. Don’t lose appreciation and gratitude for things that matter more in life, like health and family. Unemployment does not last forever, the loss of a loved one does.

6) Seize the positive out of the negative

If you have been laid off, don’t indulge in pessimism. Use your spare time to pick up a relevant skill – a language or an accreditation in your field. Self-reflect and reconsider what you really want to do in life. Consider other exciting options and invest in that path. Wake up every day with a plan and work on self-development and networking.

Learn how to handle the disappointment and feelings of hurt associated with getting retrenched and move on. This is especially pertinent during interviews as it could reflect badly if interviewers perceive you as lacking in confidence. Be prepared mentally and emotionally when you go to interviews, and prepare answers to possible questions.

If you do come across snide remarks about having been laid off, don’t take them to heart. Rise above that, it’s those who have major insecurities that try to put others down.

7) Bosses can do better

Managers tend to think that doing your job is what is expected but acknowledging a good piece of work has great positive and motivational impact.

The common understanding is that private bankers switch jobs for better pay and bonuses, but managers should also think about how good and inspiring management can be an important measure for private bankers when they assess career options. A vast majority of my clients voice their desire to work with a strong, motivational team which help them advance in their profession. Monetary considerations only come further down their list of priorities.

There is a lot of discussion about the shortage of private banking talent and how private bankers jump ship, yet there seems to be very little on how management can increase job satisfaction and performance of private bankers, leading to talent retention.

Ebru Kapusiz, a former private banker, runs Anka Consulting, a training firm for wealth managers.

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