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Industry Position: Director, Julius Baer Bank & Trust (Bahamas) Ltd.
What attracted you to the sector?
After having worked a couple of years in
various banking back-office functions, including e-business and legal and compliance, I wanted to make the switch into the front office in order to merge two of my passions: people and global finance. Without any experience or initial education in the finance sector, various managers looking to hire would close the door on me, one after the other. One manager, after having interviewed me, decided to give me a chance.
How long have you been involved in financial services?
After leaving school in South Africa I started working for Credit Suisse in Switzerland in 2001. It was not until 2010 that I joined Julius Baer. So in total, I have been in financial services for approximately 12 years, five of which have been spent in The Bahamas.
What keeps you motivated?
Why do you think you have been successful?
By not downsizing my expectations. Most people do not dream big enough and as a result settle for what they get. Ironically, I feel that you have a better chance to achieve in life what seems unrealistic and out of reach because in the end there are far less people competing for those goals. The unrealistic goals in this sense are the most achievable. And once a major goal is achieved, it produces such a high, driving you further and further. Anything major that has ever happened in my life was first created in my mind. I don’t sleep a lot but I dream a lot. What I dreamt about in the 90s became a reality around the turn of the century and what I dreamt about at the turn of the century became a reality around 2010. In short, keep on dreaming.
Did mentoring play a part in your success?
I believe it is very risky to go through life without mentors. In fact, one of my biggest mentors is originally from Bain Town, right here in Nassau. His name is Dr. Myles Munroe.
What qualifications do you feel are the most useful in helping you perform in the sector?
I finished high school in South Africa and completed a banking diploma in Switzerland, though not a college degree. What helped me the most is an insatiable hunger for knowledge which I feed through research, a lot of reading and with information freely available on the Internet. In my opinion, college is extremely valuable but I also know people that have more degrees than a thermometer and still cannot find a job. On the other hand, I also know about people that do not have any degrees but are billionaires. A degree is a great foundation, though what is equally or perhaps more important is an incessant willingness to learn. The world changes much faster today than 50 years ago. Some economic models and theories had to be reevaluated after the Great Recession of 2008. Regulatory changes are more frequent now than ever before. That is why today I feel it is so important to see education as an ongoing process and not as a once off qualification. If I had to choose a degree today though, it would be law and finance.
What has been the biggest challenge in your career? How did you overcome it?
Patience. Things sometimes take longer than expected. When I started in private banking I wanted to immediately work with clients, trade, construct portfolios, etc. Instead one of my many tasks initially was to water the plants in the office. I was not very good at it, but it taught me to be patient.
What advice would you give young people just starting out in the industry?
First discover what your passion is and then point absolutely everything in your life towards that passion, including education. Choose your friends carefully. They either stir your dreams or choke them out of you; in the latter case you eventually become like those you closely associate with. Be careful of crowds, learn to think for yourself. Whatever you respect is what you are going to attract. Ask a lot of questions and be a good listener. Last but not least, no matter how many times you fall, always get up and don’t forget to have a little faith.