When Emile Law first joined the Global Transaction Banking (GTB) team at Deutsche Bank as a graduate it didn’t take her long to realise that she was working right at the heart of the firm’s vast international operations. As an analyst she found herself liaising with colleagues across the world as she coordinated critical global deals.
Three years later and Singapore-based Emile continues to enjoy the challenges and opportunities that transaction banking provides on a daily basis. If you’re considering whether a career in GTB at Deutsche Bank might be for you, Emile outlines what her role involves and explains why people skills are actually one of the keys to success.
After graduating why did you want to start a career in transaction banking?
I was originally attracted to the banking sector as I had an interest in finance, having studied a double degree in Accountancy and Business it felt like a good fit. I was also interested in the international nature of the business and the experience and exposure this would give me. More specifically, GTB at Deutsche Bank appealed because of the wide range of interesting potential roles and products you deal with – like securities, cash and trade finance. I’ve also gained a broader understanding of banking. I was at university during the global financial crisis and I saw working in transaction banking as offering lots of long-term potential as an expanding part of the financial sector across Asia and globally.
Tell us about the graduate training programme at Deutsche Bank
At Deutsche Bank, you start the global graduate programme by attending an overseas training induction for four to six week. For me this was in New York, it was a fantastic experience as I was able to meet with many of the global graduates that joined the bank that year. We all attended very structured training sessions, networked and worked on a few projects. After the global induction stage I returned to Singapore to continue with my GTB programme, rotating around six different groups within GTB. I gained experience in Institutional Sales; Market Advocacy; Business Management; Trade Finance; Implementation and finally Product Management – where I now work permanently.
So what exactly is product management within transaction banking?
Product management is at the heart of the business. Basically you create the product before the sales team sells it – but a lot of effort goes in to that. For example, you need to review the legal agreements, ensure there’s adequate technical support, processes in place and make sure the product adheres to regulations. There’s a lot of homework to do before the product actually goes to market.
What stands out as the highlight of your early career at Deutsche Bank?
As a junior in a global bank it’s all about making the most of your opportunities to talk with as many people as possible. I was lucky that my last rotation was in product management and there was a major ‘request for proposal’ (RFP). So without much prior product knowledge I got to co-ordinate the pitch to a major European client. It was great as I experienced working with people from many different parts of Deutsche Bank across the world. I could see first-hand how the project was worked on round the clock and passed from time zone to time zone. It was amazing to see it all coming together.
How did you learn the skills needed to succeed in your job?
Unlike some other parts of banking, there aren’t many textbooks in transaction banking product management, so you very much learn on the job. Fortunately, when I started as the most junior in the team, my bosses anticipated my learning needs. I was co-ordinating project work and events, which was a great start to my job as it provided the perfect chance to introduce myself to and work with everyone in the team right across the region. From this I learnt important skills such as stakeholder management and how to get myself heard within different teams. Overall, the best way to learn is by talking to people – speaking up and asking for advice.
Was that a bit daunting at first?
My first career challenge was really in my own head, feeling like I didn’t know enough about product management – that I didn’t have enough ‘archives’ in my brain. So to overcome that I had to quickly gain the confidence to ask my colleagues for advice, even if my questions were quite basic at first.
More recently you’ve been promoted to Associate. What’s the main difference between Analyst and Associate work?
I’ve been able to stand more on my own two feet. I now have a more defined scope of work that I am able to manage myself. With this comes more responsibility for what you say and do. You’re always working with others, learning and improving as both an Analyst and Associate. As an Associate you need to apply all of the knowledge you learned as an Analyst, be proactive and communicate your ideas with confidence.
What’s the most interesting product you’ve worked on recently at Deutsche Bank?
Late last year it was crunch time for my team as we had an opportunity to push out a new product for the upcoming Shanghai-Hong Kong Stock Connect scheme. Because Stock Connect was so significant we had discussions for a joint-venture product that went way beyond a typical new launch. It meant collaboration between the GTB and Markets divisions of the Bank to put together a product within a tight timeline. This involved discussions with Risk, Credit, Legal, Treasury, Operations and many other stakeholders. I loved the intensity and importance of the team work. Working in GTB is all about delivering as a team whilst all bringing your own contribution.
It sounds like communication skills are key to the job?
Absolutely. Although technical skills are also crucial, a lot of product management is actually people management – being able to bring various teams together to deliver something new and effective for a client. And people management becomes more and more important as your career progresses.
What’s your average working day like at Deutsche Bank?
There isn’t one. A lot depends on the pipeline of work we have coming up. I might be working on an RFP, having a new product discussion, or reading deep into new financial regulations – that’s a key part of the job. Perhaps later on in the day I could be discussing product issues and developments on internal calls, whilst providing project updates to key stakeholders. In the afternoon I tend to have calls with colleagues in Europe and generally my days involve a lot of liaising with my own and other teams – Product Management, Sales, Legal, Risk and Technology.
How do you handle that?
A key skill is to be able to manage and communicate with many different stakeholders across the business, so you need to be able to speak to different people across the bank using their language. A technology person might be talking about releases and technical functionality; for someone in operations it’s about processes and procedures; for sales it’s all about clients; and for legal you need to review documentation together in detail identifying any potential operational issues or contractual implications for example. You need to be versatile in your approach to navigate between different perspectives on the same product.
What other factors are crucial to forging a successful transaction banking career at Deutsche Bank?
Attention to detail is important because you must be quick to identify potential areas of concern, especially as there are so many stakeholders involved. You also need to be aware of macro trends such as China gradually making its currency more convertible – that’s a huge change on the financial landscape with huge product ramifications. Banking products are constantly evolving and technology is a big factor in this. You have to know which products can be launched automatically and which require more IT investment. And keep abreast of potential fintech disruptions. But most importantly, I think you have got to love the pressure and excitement of your team working on new products and hopefully, winning new deals. That’s what I really enjoy about this job.
The application deadline for Deutsche Bank's 2016 Internship programme is 15th November 2016 - click here for more information.