When considering the plethora of vocations available across the banking sphere, it is of common opinion that a career in wealth management is one that is sound, stable, and highly rewarding.
Among the different areas or pathways that a career in this subset can lead to is the all-popular relationship manager (RM) position. Aside from the need to rise up the ranks (many RMs in the industry come from customer service or other client-oriented roles), the job also asks for a certain set of soft skills in order to perform one’s duties aptly, ensuring that one will scale the position successfully.
The relationship management role involves overseeing the financial health of high-net-worth clients who engage banks or other financial institutions for their services. Aside from recommending solutions for their clients on behalf of the bank/institution, RMs also help them make sound financial decisions while explaining the various services as well as instruments available to them.
RMs can climb up the ranks through various routes. They usually join the banking ranks, starting off as a retail bank’s assistant RM, followed by a Junior RM and then being promoted to a Senior RM. They then often move on to a private bank and before progressing to a multi-family office. Alternatively, many join the bank as personal financial consultants, slowly progressing to more senior roles.
Aside from academic credentials as well as obtaining their Capital Markets and Financial Advisory Services (CMFAS) accreditation along the way, there is a host of soft skills necessary to excel in this field:
Ability to Interact with Clients from All Backgrounds
Although this one applies to most jobs, the nature of the client and RM relationship makes it particularly pertinent due to the fact that the position involves constant communication. Aside from possessing superlative people skills, a good RM knows how to practice effective listening, ascertaining the client’s needs at any given point by listening as much as he or she speaks.
Ability to Carry Out Damage Control
Every RM will face situations where a trade goes south – it’s part and parcel of the profession. It is extremely important to manage a situation aptly when financial outcomes don’t go favourably for the client, and those instances will probably occur.
When a trade/investment does not perform as expected, an RM should always inform the client of the situation immediately and remain in constant contact to reassure the client. Aside from the fact that the client should already be aware of the risks involved with any particular financial instrument, a skilled RM should always be able to make decisions on his or her feet. Clients depend on them to remain calm in the face of adversity and handle such situations with a clear head.
A Driven Mindset
Relationship management is predominantly a sales position where one’s bonus makes up a considerable portion of remuneration. Often treating their clients’ money as their own, successful RMs recognise the necessity to sell their financial products and services with conviction. This often comes with a strong belief in the products they are selling – which are essentially products that they would invest in themselves.
Ability to Collaborate and Communicate Internally
Sound communication skills don’t stop at the client-RM level. Professionals in the industry rarely work autonomously, especially in the context of financial institutions/banks. While Junior RMs need to be a team player, Senior RMs need to exercise certain levels of leadership skill to steer their team forward.
One other way in which communication is important internally is when RMs interact with their product specialists. For example, all banks have Forex and Bond specialists that work closely with RMs to filter information, enabling them to provide accurate analysis to their clients. Maintaining good relationships with these colleagues allows an RM to stay up to date on relevant information.
The RM role is one that is often looked at as one with stable career progression and more than satisfactory remuneration. Success in the industry is often obtained with a healthy mix of constantly keeping up-to-date with current financial climates as well as the soft skills elucidated above. The role also requires a healthy dose of patience – deals are rarely closed during the course of one solitary meeting. As the job title suggests, it’s often the nurtured relationships that pay off handsomely in the long run.