Keith Harrison of Bank Hapoalim explains a typical day for a chief executive officer within a private bank, including the activities, challenges and responsibilities, as well as how the role has changed in recent years.
Date: Nov 2011
It is no longer a full-time client-facing role, he explained, even though there is a client focus – whether it comes down to being involved in a conversation with a client in relation to a large transaction, or meeting clients who visit the office, or going on trips with his bankers from time to time to meet clients and prospects.
From the management perspective, it’s about looking after people and managing staff, said Harrison, so that they can perform the daily business of private banking – not only the front office, but also the back office in terms of finance and compliance, for example.
Given that all staff report to the CEO via their various line managers, Harrison said he has to worry about their well-being and help them address whatever issues they have.
At the same time, he looks after the office in Hong Kong in relation to the administrative tasks.
On a day-to-day basis, Harrison said he has a lot of dealings with correspondence, as well as managing the control structure.
This means having a number of meetings, he explained, covering issues ranging from asset liability and anti-money laundering to general management and investment. Further, there are discussions with teams about their progress in relation to their targets.
At the same time, Harrison said there is a need to deal with issues in relation to the bank’s head office, which relate not only to the overall performance of the Asia unit, but also to the controls, and to how the business is dealing with auditors and regulators.
Plus, as a small unit, he said it is important to promote what it is doing in Asia, to ensure it gets the full support it needs to develop further in the region.
Prioritising time and attention
Harrison said he ultimately has to prioritise his time towards the risk management and control environment, to ensure the checks and balances, and procedures and processes, are in place to deliver a steady and well-managed service to clients.
At the same time, Harrison said he has to be realistic that he cannot be in direct control of everything that goes on in this business without it grinding to a halt, given how many aspects there are to it.
Yet he added that it is vital to ensure he has a robust process to control any business the bank takes on, and how it monitors these clients and their activities to ensure suitability and good practice.
A changing role
The last decade or so has seen the role of the business leader evolve to some extent – but there is still a clear need to manage and motivate people, and to lead by example, said Harrison.
The key change, however, is the additional level of complexity as a result of the changing regulatory environment and market conditions.
This requires Harrison to constantly keep up-to-date with what’s happening through a vast amount of reading to have enough of the right information to make decisions and give the right guidance.