Thong Yin Mun
Assistant Manager, Commercial Banking
Has been with this company for 2 years
Choosing a degree can be tough, but remember, it does not always project your ultimate career path. A strong CGPA might get your foot through the door but your interpersonal skills and ability to work in a team environment will navigate your success at work. I found my involvement with clubs and societies as real exposure to the industry and an excellent networking avenue.
I was an intern with the global markets finance and operations at HSBC. It gave me a good insight into the banking world, and a referral letter from my senior manager certainly boosted my CV. Drawn by the graduate programme, I came back to HSBC a year later.
My company and job
I joined as executive trainee in commercial banking. The programme entailed a six-month core attachment followed by rotations to various functions. My current and permanent role is with the commercial real estate team as junior lender. Our portfolio of customers include developers, property investors and construction companies. My main responsibilities include evaluating and reviewing risk profiles and project feasibility, managing customer relationships as well as writing credit papers for loan extensions.
The best and worst bits
I love how the job requires my continuous learning of market trends and sound research on companies and how they fit into their various industries. It is important to have extensive knowledge about the sector you serve to make educated recommendations to your clients. As usual, passion can bring you a long way.
The less enticing part of being in the frontline is the pressure of meeting monetary targets – with increasing competition and restrictions towards foreign banks, growing sustainable revenues would naturally be more challenging than before.
My most memorable achievement at work
The bank presented me many opportunities to manage projects and lead extra-curricular activities. The two significant projects I remember include a bank-wide restructuring exercise and leading an annual charity event.
Getting the job
The hiring process includes an online assessment, phone interview, preliminary round of interview and finally spending a half-day at the assessment centre with role-plays, focus groups and presentations.
Be prepared for
In a client-facing role, expect a fast-paced environment where slackers lose out on getting their share of the pie. There will always be challenging customers and tight deadlines to meet when it comes to new proposals. Be ready to prioritise your work and push through the occasional long hours.
Paper qualifications are far from meeting the mark nowadays. Get to know people who work in the industry, use semester breaks for work experience opportunities, participate in extra-curricular activities that can be informative,and be consistent with building your market knowledge.