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Foreign language skills crucial to success

Published: May 06, 2013

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Name: Aneka Rolle

Industry position: Client relationship manager, Pictet Bank & Trust Limited

What attracted you to the sector?

Having graduated with a degree in economics and French, I was attracted by the opportunity to work in an industry where I could combine my training in economics with my background in the French language. I think the financial services industry is unique in that it is one of the few industries in The Bahamas that values language skills and provides ample opportunity to fully utilize foreign languages.

How long have you been involved in financial services? What keeps you motivated?

In June of this year I will have completed six years in the financial services industry. This is not a long time and I realize that there is much more learning to be done. The industry is dynamic enough that simply pursuing my needs to learn, grow and be challenged keeps me highly motivated.

Why do you think you have been successful?

A blend of hard work and humility are huge drivers of success in my opinion. For example, I started as the assistant to the investment strategy team, worked up to junior portfolio manager and more recently, became a client relationship manager. This meant performing tasks that weren’t necessarily the most interesting, challenging or even directly job-related, but doing them to the best of my ability all the same.  In a business built on trust, this is how I built trust with my team who were all senior in age and experience to me. It is what allowed me to receive more challenging work until I finally earned the job I really wanted, which was to work with clients.   However, I think some of my success comes from less obvious sources as well. Being open to and embracing different people and their culture is crucial in this industry. Professionalism, in the way you speak, behave and yes, even dress, is also of utmost importance. Of course, the support and encouragement of my family and friends can never be overstated.

Did mentoring play a part in your success?

I have been extremely fortunate in that some of the most seasoned and competent players in the financial services industry in The Bahamas have taken a keen interest in my career. The managing director at Pictet, a 35-year veteran in The Bahamas and Swiss financial industries, whom I respect greatly and aim to emulate professionally, is one such person.  On one occasion, he explained to me that having the qualifications and the fancy letters behind my name was fine, great even, but the best thing that I could do to be successful in this industry is to “learn languages” and to “network”. That turned out to be excellent advice.

What qualifications do you feel are the most useful in helping you perform in the sector?

Learning and becoming fully fluent in French has been critical to my role as a relationship manager and has helped me to stand out as an industry professional. Pairing my French language skills with skills learnt by undertaking the CFA program has been daunting but ultimately it has been a rewarding experience professionally. Clients need to have confidence that you understand different financial instruments and that your advice serves their best interest. The CFA program is the gold standard for investment professionals and is an excellent way to demonstrate your competence, putting you on equal footing with investment professionals globally.

What has been the biggest challenge in your career? How did you overcome it?

The biggest challenge of my career was spending seven months last year training in Geneva under the chief investment officer of the Pictet Group. I was charged with learning the investment platform of the group, drastically improving my French language skills and passing one of my CFA exams. Such a wonderful opportunity did not come without its fair share of challenges and the pressure to perform seemed insurmountable. I literally felt as though I was dropped in the middle of a foreign country where I knew absolutely no one and was told “find your way”. This forced me to make a choice to sink or swim.  I succeeded by embracing the challenge and remaining positive and composed. I spoke and engaged in investment meetings in French at every opportunity and did every single task, big and small, enthusiastically and thoroughly. My Swiss colleagues appreciated my open nature and the fact that I was always smiling. I taught them what I knew and they in turn were very open to teaching me all that they knew.  Just as soon as I was getting extremely comfortable with my new life in Geneva, my seven months were up and I was on my way bank to Nassau with a wealth of knowledge, skills and new experiences.

What advice would you give young people just starting out in the industry?

I always advise young people to do things that make them stand out from the crowd. Try to achieve the best grades in high school and university that you can. Learn a foreign language or two if you are able to. Indeed, my next challenge is to master Spanish. Finally, do not be discouraged when failure presents itself. As someone who has personally experienced failure on more than one occasion, I can be the first to tell you that it certainly is not the end of the world. Perseverance is paramount in attaining your goals, whatever they may be.

Last Updated on Thursday, 16 May 2013 13:16

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