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Keep up with changing times

  • Terraine Smith.

Published: Oct 24, 2013

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Terraine Smith

Industry position: Associate director/trust officer; team head – Rest of the World Desk – UBS Trustees (Bahamas) Ltd.

Education and training: BA economics (honors program) – University of Georgia; associate of arts degree in banking and Spanish – The College of The Bahamas; trust & estate practitioner (TEP); CFP certification professional education program – The College for Financial Planning

Career: Offshore financial services/banking

What attracted you to the sector?

I had quite a bit of exposure to the financial services sector while I was in high school and college. I worked a few summers at UBS, and had the opportunity to work one summer at the Central Bank of The Bahamas and also did my work experience for high school graduation at another financial institution.

In addition, obtaining very good grades in mathematics and Spanish influenced my decision to work in the offshore financial sector, although I was still quite open to becoming a teacher by profession. When I graduated from The College of The Bahamas with my AA in banking and Spanish, I worked at a small offshore investment company as a portfolio management assistant and later on as the operations manager. I then decided to further my studies at the University of Georgia and graduated with a BA in economics.

When I returned to Nassau I thought with my degree and thesis on free trade agreements I would most likely apply for a job at the Central Bank of The Bahamas. However, as fate would have it, while searching for a job I worked at UBS for yet another summer and found myself becoming very interested in the administration of trusts and was offered a full-time job before the summer was over.

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

I have been involved in offshore financial services for nine years.  Generally speaking I am a very self-motivated person and I thoroughly enjoy taking on new challenges and opportunities.  My son has only added to my drive to succeed as I want to inspire him to achieve all of his goals and to be successful in whatever career he chooses.  It also helps that there are many opportunities available in the financial sector and the fact that I love what I do.  Achieving client satisfaction is also a very rewarding experience.

Why do you think you have been successful? Did mentoring play a part in your success?

There is no doubt that hard work and determination are the key ingredients for success but one must always seek out new challenges and continuously expand one’s scope and role. No matter how small or insignificant a task may seem, you must do your best and maintain a good work ethic. Of course mentoring (as well as coaching) plays a part; it is those persons who continuously provide constructive feedback, support and guidance that get me through challenges. Having the support of my colleagues and family has allowed me to continuously strive to succeed and to challenge myself everyday.

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

A college degree would be most helpful.  A professor once told me having a degree simply lets an employer know that you are trainable and you have discipline and that no matter what your degree is in you can apply for just about any job. I found this to be somewhat true but I would also add that professional designations (such as TEP in my case) combined with on-the-job training are also important.

Why is it important to encourage our youth to think of careers within financial services?

Not only is it important to encourage our youth to think of careers within financial services but it is equally as important to attract them to the industry. We need them in order to sustain the industry and for it to continue to grow and to replace those that leave the field on the one hand and to also bring to the table bright new ideas and innovation required to remain competitive.

What is important for our youth to know is that there is a wide array of careers and opportunities in financial services. There are opportunities to travel and to interact with clients and colleagues from all parts of the world.

Are there specific suggestions you have for sustaining and/or growing the financial services sector?

We are facing an increasingly complex and changing environment especially with respect to various tax regimes in countries that we service. What is important is that we challenge ourselves to keep up with these changing times and to remain flexible and open to opportunities as they arise.

We see our business changing focus and adapting and as the most important resource – human capital – we have to do the same to remain competitive and valuable to our organizations and the industry at large.


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