Good things come to those who wait and climbing the ladder of success requires patience.
One thing Citi Private Bank’s Adam Proctor has identified is millennial relationship managers (RMs) who emerge into the working world with unrealistic expectations of the rate of their career growth.
The global market manager for Singapore, Australia and New Zealand said many would-be bankers expect to be servicing billionaire clients with just one or two years of working experience after coming through the graduate programme.
‘People just don't want to do the hard work and spend five to six years gaining the very important experience and technical knowledge to become a private banker,’ he said. ‘They want to be a private banker immediately. To them, that’s success.’
‘This is not going to happen, because we are talking about handling the investments, wealth planning and borrowing needs of clients worth a minimum of $25 million up to many billions.
‘We work on managing the expectations of young bankers who are on our Global Analyst Progamme and ensure that we give them a structured and clear route to gaining the required experience to become world-class private bankers.’
The development of young talent is a real passion for Adam, who oversees the Citi Private Bank Global Analyst Program committee as one of his additional responsibilities.
Given the nature of the private banking business, Proctor is urging the minimum entry and examination requirements for RMs to be raised across the whole industry.
‘I worry the level of knowledge might not be as good as it could be, especially if we are looking at very wealthy, complex and sophisticated clients.
‘There is a big difference between dealing with an affluent client and a mega wealthy client worth $500 million. But the qualification needed is the same,’ he said.
A private banker’s story
Now aged 39, Proctor is running a business that spans three markets.
He recalls the early days of his career in London. ‘My first few years when I was younger, I did lots of exams. I was conscious I was young and needed to be technically good to be competing with the older senior bankers.’
In 2000, the British-born banker joined Barclays’ eight-month graduate program, which allowed him to get a taste of both corporate and private banking.
It was a three-year programme and Proctor was 21 during that time.
Three years later he was promoted to a private banker, and within two years of growing his high-net-worth (HNW) clientele, Barclays handed him the responsibility of setting up an office in the west of England in Bristol.
‘These are the wealthier clients in the southwest of England. I thought that was a great and amazing responsibility at the age I was. One of my tasks was to train 18 bankers, all of whom were older than me, into RMs,’ he said.
After working at Barclays for seven years, Proctor felt he was ready for his next big challenge. He met Citi Private Bank’s global chief executive Peter Charrington in the summer of 2007.
‘Within three days of our meeting, I received my contract to join Citi’s private bank in London as a senior private banker in March 2008, focusing on UK clients.
‘It was a tough time for the markets then because of the credit crisis. But it was a great time for me to gain prospective clients, as investors were unsettled at other private banks and were looking to other banks to diversify their risk.
‘Through cold calling, I signed up all my biggest clients between 2008 and 2009.’
Three years later in 2012, Proctor was appointed as a UK banker team leader for Citi’s ultra HNW clients, and subsequently in 2015 as head of the global client program to oversee the private bank’s global cross-border business.
He implemented significant improvements to the business by tripling the participation by both bankers and clients, growing revenues by over 370% over three years.
‘During that time, I was very fortunate to be travelling all around the world. I was in North America eight to nine times a year, plus visiting Asia three to four times a year.
‘That’s when I realized I really wanted to come to Asia. In 2017, I moved to Singapore to the role of head of managed investments for Asia Pacific, overseeing the mutual fund, private equity, real estate, hedge fund and discretionary product offering for the region.’
Today, as global market manager, a role which Proctor was appointed to in February 2018, he has overall responsibility for Citi’s relationships with clients in Singapore, Australia and New Zealand.
He is currently looking to hire more RMs. But he is very selective with his choice.
‘I have interviewed over 45 people this year and hired only four to five people. It is hard to integrate the team if you bring in too many at once. You run the risk of diluting the culture of the team which is very important to me as well as our franchise.
‘Some banks here have 90 bankers covering a specific market. That can mean everyone is fighting for the same clients. That’s a culture I don’t want to instil.
‘I am now trying to find bankers who have a strong focus on tech clients which is an area where we are paying more attention to.’