Today, I do a similar role - only on a different scale. Both involve supporting our customers 'cross-borders'.
"Leveraging technology and intellectual capital is what makes this possible."
Tareq Muhmood, Managing Director, Global Diversified Industries, Global Banking, ANZ
So what has changed over the last 15 years?
At first glance you might say not much.
Corporate customers still want their bank to understand them, their strategy, their pain points. They want ideas that can help them become more efficient and effective. That was the case in 1997, that is the case today.
They also want a bank to respond and execute quickly. While this requirement has not changed, the meaning has.
'Quickly' today is different from 'Quickly' yesterday.
Think of this actual example:
In 1998, a CFO of a major multi-national in Hong Kong wanted accounts with a settlement facility established in Manila. Quickly at that time, meant:
Day1: Request is acknowledged.
One week later: Get back to the customer on documentary requirements.
Two / Three weeks later: Draft proposal for discussion prepared.
In 2015, a CFO of a major multi-national in Singapore is expanding their business and wants to get accounts and a trade facility (which includes a receivables financing structure) in Australia. Quickly today means:
10am: Discussion held with CFO.
3pm: Indicative proposal, structure and requirement set out.
The proposal is to include the receivables structure, including an inventory finance option with warehouses located in multiple jurisdictions.
At the same time, a discussion around a credit swap and requirements for a revolving credit facility are covered.
All of this needs to happen in a 5-hour period. There is no day 2, 3 or 4 etc.
Cross Border Banking has gone to a new level.
The need for rapid and nimble responses, with clarity on 'what is possible' and 'what may prove challenging' is imperative.
Leveraging technology and intellectual capital is what makes this possible.
Technology allows multiple individuals to work on a solution in parallel even while located across different jurisdictions. It also allows for risk assessments and the modelling of different outcomes in a thorough and dynamic manner.
Intellectual capital on the other hand, applies to deeper product and geographic insights, combined with data analytics around trade and investment flows. Then using a strong base of assembled talent, we bring it altogether to a client – in record time. This is something that, to be honest, was not even on the radar 15 years ago.
It is similar to comparing First Class travel on an airline 15 years ago to what it involves today (not that I experience First Class Travel!).
A recent experience was with one client who was looking at an acquisition. The returns on the acquisition were dependent on the underlying commodity prices and currency movements.
Using technology to model a variety of scenarios allowed the customer to understand their own comfort level on what level of financial risk they were willing and able to take, and what hedges they had available to mitigate those risks. The dynamics we looked at were the commodity prices and the volatility in currencies.
As we had the industry knowledge and depth, it allowed us to partner the client and provide them with insights on the dynamics we saw as a bank – to help them reach the best possible outcome.
Looking to the future...this is where my stomach turns.
What will 'quickly' mean in 10 years?
Perhaps it will mean that Relationship Managers won't have a role. Micro-chips, the Cloud and other parts of the technology world could replace the treasured role of 'Relationship Management'.
But I'm pretty certain that won't be the case.
A micro-chip can never replace the personality, emotion and humour an ANZ Relationship Manager brings to the table! Well, I hope so anyway…
What we do know is the future will arrive a lot more quickly than it used to.