Motivated to be competitive globally
Published: Jul 18, 2013
Name: Damian E. Forbes
Industry position: Senior investment & portfolio manager, Deltec Bank & Trust Ltd.
What attracted you to the sector?
The generally fast pace of business and the ever-changing nature of investment markets. Also, the fact that the direction of markets is often not determined by a single factor, but instead a more complex mixture of variables, and the realization that divining the direction of investments is part art and part science. These characteristics have always kept me interested, challenged and, most importantly, engaged in a continual process of learning.
How long have you been involved in financial services. What keeps you motivated?
Over 15 years. The observation that the world we live in, particularly as it pertains to investments and financial services, is not limited by the artificial boundaries of geography and that capital, both financial and human, flows towards opportunity regardless of location (location does not hold a monopoly on competitiveness and innovation). As such, the desire to be competitive with my counterparts on a global basis, not just within my own region, keeps me motivated and informed.
Why do you think you have been successful?
Two quotes come to mind when I think of this question. The first is “Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever”, attributed to Mahatma Gandhi, and the second, “Opportunity is missed by most because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work” by Thomas Edison. Success, arguably, can be disaggregated into part luck and part labor (with the qualification that through hard work and perseverance, one may be able to create his own “luck”). Along these lines, my accomplishments have partly been owed to a commitment to knowledge and a continual process of learning and self-improvement. Aiming to be always diligent and prepared in order to capitalize on opportunities when they present themselves is also a contributing factor.
Did mentoring play a part in your success?
Yes. Throughout my career, I have had the benefit of knowing a few individuals who have had an impact on my development through contributions of their time, wisdom and experience. This has helped to shape who I am today and my perspective on many things.
What qualifications do you feel are the most useful in helping you perform in the sector?
I would say that qualifications come in many different shapes, so may be somewhat of a misnomer. In my humble opinion, while formal qualifications impart (and imply) a certain level of knowledge and helps to open doors, it is attitude that is of greater bearing. A genuine desire to be involved in the industry, a commitment to continued learning, the effort to fully understand your clients and the drive to offer the best level of service and products possible are key determinants of performance.
What has been the biggest challenge in your career? How did you overcome it?
From an industry standpoint - overcoming the impression that as a country we do not have the breadth of financial services available in other financial centers. From an individual standpoint - that we do not have the level of competitive and competent persons available to perform those services. In my dialogue with existing and potential clients, industry groups and practitioners, whenever I can I try to focus on the developments we have made from both a product and industry perspective. Additionally, trying to find and implement solutions for underrepresented areas wherein there is opportunity is paramount for expansion. Importantly, committing oneself to being current and knowledgeable, and encouraging others to do likewise, helps to maintain a world class talent pool, a competitive industry and a greater awareness of them both.
What advice would you give young people just starting out in the industry?
Realize that the world is a much more interconnected place today. That the speed with which information travels and the manner in which it is communicated dramatically decreases the reaction time to new developments. As a result, one should appreciate that from an informational standpoint you can effectively operate from almost anywhere in the world today and are not necessarily disadvantaged being located outside of a large, metropolitan financial center. However, one should also realize that with this globalization and interconnectedness comes the obligation to compete both inside your region and outside of it. You should not be satisfied with simply outperforming in your own local market or industry; you should compare and compete with your counterparts on a global basis and strive to ensure that your brand or product measures up with the best that the world has to offer.
Are there specific suggestions you have for sustaining and/or growing the financial services sector?
• Regular interaction between private and public counterparts, such as BFSB’s ongoing efforts, to exchange views on the direction and developments within the industry.
• Periodic reviews of where we are as an industry, services offered compared to other financial center, and changes in regulations to ensure that we remain competitive.
• Continued marketing of The Bahamas and its financial services sector both internationally and locally at a variety of networking and industry events to raise awareness of our viability and capabilities as a jurisdiction and to help in keeping members aware of industry developments and efforts.