If you’re intent on reaching the upper echelons of banking in Singapore, becoming managing director is probably your ultimate goal.
But it’s possible to achieve senior status and have a satisfying job at vice president (or senior VP) level – and at that rank you’re also less likely to be culled as banks in Asia axe their most expensive staff.
We’ve looked through public profiles of VPs at banks in Singapore who’ve enjoyed successful careers to date. If you’re an analyst or associate in the city state, here’s a selection to inspire you.
1. Eddie Ler, BNP Paribas: strategy guru
Ler is a VP in “business implementation” and his career suggests he is well placed to offer strategic advice to the bank in Asia. After starting out as a relationship manager at UOB Ler worked for KPMG’s sovereign wealth funds and banking practice in Singapore, China, Indonesia and Vietnam between 2006 and 2010. During the same period he was also a consultant for the World Bank, covering financial institutions, and before moving to BNP Paribas in 2014 the Oxford University graduate was associate director of planning at the Qatar Financial Centre Authority.
2. Xuewei Cai, DBS: thriving after RBS
We noted last year that DBS would be one of the main recruiters of former RBS staff in Singapore as the British bank wound down its Asian operations. Cai is a case in point – she spent six years in credit sales at RBS, covering G3 and local currency products, before being snapped up by DBS in 2015 as a senior VP in fixed income sales.
3. Pranav Seth, OCBC: tech to consultancy to fintech
Seth is a SVP with the impressive job title of “head of e-business and business transformation, global consumer financial services”. This means he “spearheads the fintech and innovation efforts for the OCBC group”, including its expanding private bank, Bank of Singapore. OCBC is actually the first bank Seth has worked for – he joined in 2010 from McKinsey & Co and previously worked in engineering roles for technology companies such as Nokia.
4. Aurélie Haensler Saada, HSBC: tapping the talent shortage
The Singapore finance sector is seriously short of candidates for operational risk jobs and banks are often willing to relocate people when these roles arise. HSBC moved ops risk expert Haensler Saada from France to Singapore back in 2009 and since then the demand for her skills has led to her clinching four promotions within the bank. She’s now senior vice president, operational risk and internal control.
5. Alvin Tan, Deutsche Bank: company man
In a market where young bankers are prone to job hopping, Tan’s career is a textbook example of how internal ladder climbing should be done in investment banking. He began as an analyst in corporate finance in 2008 and was specialising in equity capital markets (ECM) two years later. By 2011 he was an associate and four years after that he’d reached VP level. Tan’s elite education would have helped his rise up the ranks – he has a BA and MA from the University of Cambridge and has also completed one executive courses at Columbia Business School and London Business School.
6. Ben Heyman, Credit Suisse: new business man
Heyman is responsible for “front to back delivery and control oversight of a portfolio of new business initiatives raised by the APAC front office” – a role that must presumably keep him busy given that Asian expansion is pivotal to Credit Suisse’s new strategy announced in October. His background seems entirely suited to this role as it includes project management roles at Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank and J.P. Morgan, where he “implemented processes and systems to support new markets and products, rolled out operational platforms, and planned and delivered organisational restructures”.
7. Ankur Sahni, Barclays: takeover target
Sahni works at the elite end of private banking, severing “ultra high net worth” clients (typically those with more than US$30m to invest). He took a non-traditional route into the sector, however, starting his career at Indian tourism software company Amadeus before moving to Citi in New Delhi as a wealth manager. Sahni then followed a well-trodden path for top-performing Indian private bankers – he got an internal transfer to Singapore to manage his clients’ wealth offshore. A Barclays staffer since 2012, Sahni now awaits a decision from the British firm about the sale of its Asian wealth unit – DBS, Julius Baer, Nomura, OCBC and UOB are all potential buyers.
8. Ashley Scifleet, BAML: expat in ops
Even as banks in Singapore move some of their more junior and mundane back-office jobs into lower-cost markets, they still need to keep senior operations staff based in the Republic. And for specialist operations roles they’re willing to recruit expat talent like Scifleet, an expert in futures and options clearing. Before joining BAML in 2012, Scifleet held a string of roles in this area – at ABN AMRO, Fimat and MF Global – over a career spanning nearly 15 years.
Image credit: Photodisc, Thinkstock