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Life as a Wealth Manager at Standard Chartered Bank

Updated: May 5, 2022

Ankur Kapoor graduated from the London School of Economics through the University of London, majoring in banking and finance. Shortly after, he attained his masters certification from IE Business School in Madrid, Spain. Having a natural affinity for mathematics, Ankur knew banking was the end goal after graduation and he currently works as a Relationship and Wealth manager in Standard Chartered Bank (SCB).

In today’s blog, Ankur Kapoor will share what it takes to survive and thrive in the priority and wealth management sector.

Knowing your end goal to be in the banking industry, what opportunities did you explore as an undergraduate?

There were not as many relevant internship opportunities available during my time at university as there are now. Internships did not exist in abundance. As such, we had to learn through reading books and the news.

How was your first job?

After graduating from university, I landed a role at Aviva, an insurance firm. The role involved much cold calling, which appeared daunting since one has to build rapport with strangers to close deals. The challenge led me to develop my trust-building ability with clients from an early stage. Undoubtedly, this was one of the first important lessons I learn in this sales role.

How had your stint at Aviva shaped your career trajectory?

In the grand scheme, it was a cornerstone of my career. Notably, the role showed me the possibility of not being behind the desk all the time, which was not my cup of tea. The time spent at Aviva gave me a taste of what is to come in the subsequent roles, with similar client-facing job requirements advising them and establishing trust.

“It’s all about trust.”

Moving to your current role, what does a day in the life of a wealth manager look like?

It varies between different banks and also on an individual level. However, my day usually begins at night in Singapore, as most of our work is centred around the US markets. Before bed, I try to read through the news to gauge the market sentiment. After waking up in the morning, it is time for more readings, be it Bloomberg, Yahoo Finance, etc.

Reading the news is an excellent way to start thinking about the possible strategies to apply for the day. Reaching the office, we usually have a huddle talk with treasury specialists and investment advisors, who have the expertise to provide more detailed market analysis. I spend the rest of the day checking with clients, suggesting ideas, and creating the various structured notes.

What is the secret sauce that aspiring wealth managers should know?

The role revolves around your ability to establish trust with your client. Your clients are typically high net-worth individuals (HNIs) looking to put their hard-earned money in your hand. A remarkable observation about most wealth managers is that many of their clients become friends outside of their professional relationships. Such deep connection with clients is the level every junior wealth manager should aspire to achieve.

Building trust is difficult, but it boils down to how you make your clients open up to you. Personally, letting them talk about themselves and being a good listener yield positive initial impressions.

Behind the scenes, what are some realities which others do not see?

In this industry, top-down targets drive the role at any level of seniority. It is relatively stress-free during the bull market. However, it could be very stressful during uncertain times when everything could go south. The reality of a bearish time is that the pain of your clients losing a vast sum of money is palpable. I have had clients texting me, concerned about what to do next. When the market plunges, as a banker, you can’t control how much further it will drop. These are the times one feels helpless, and it can pull down your morale.

Besides the autonomous nature of our work within the industry, it is nonetheless a heavily regulated industry. Each wealth manager has a balance scorecard system to keep employees in check. Violation of the stringent compliant rules results in severe consequences, as one could imagine since all non-compliant behaviours are recorded in the system and are accessible to other banks too.

In retrospection, would you have done anything differently?

If there is one thing, it would be how I approach the role at the start. Building up my asset under management book (AUM) before closing the deals would have been wise. Converting clients into revenue is tempting. Building up one’s book allows one to be stress-free looking for new clients.

How would you advise an aspiring wealth manager?

By keeping up with the market news, one could learn about the inter-industry relationships and the typical price movements of assets in correlation with each piece of information. However, these hard skills required in this industry could be acquired by anyone willing to put in the hard work.

In addition, one should not shy away from any conversation to stand out. As I mentioned, even the most mundane conversation could be the key to earning your client’s trust. Be open to any request, as sometimes the tiny helpful gestures endear your clients.

What general career advice would you give to someone still exploring their pathways?

I believe one of the quickest methods to narrow down your choices when exploring the different pathways is to pick one with which you resonate the most and try it out. With the abundance of internship opportunities nowadays, one will gauge whether such a role is suitable.

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