When multinational companies open shop in the country, among the people they work with are the banks. The link between them and the bank is a local account manager.
At Ecobank–Rwanda, Barnabas Kalenzi is that link. In the department of Corporate Banking, he holds the title, Local Account Manager for Multinationals. He explains to Collins Mwai why it is important to have your ‘A game’ at all times as a holder of the position.
What are your duties and responsibilities?
There is establishing a relationship with a client, maintaining it and building it.
While establishing relationships, there are aspects of sales where you have to make initial contact with clients. Once they have an account with the bank, you deal with their day to day needs. The fourth part of my duties is providing financial advice to clients as they go about business.
To hold the office, what academic qualifications should one have?
Mainly, it is a Bachelor of Commerce degree. I studied Bachelor of Commerce (Finance and Planning) at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University in South Africa. I also did a certificate in financial planning and I am currently pursuing chartered certified accounts with ACCA (Association of Charted Certified Accounts).
There must be some character traits that come in handy as well, right?
The first is having great communication skills. You have to be organised and plan your work accordingly because you handle portfolios of various clients and they have different expectations.
You also have to be informed about your market and trends, so you have to read. You should read as often as you can to be updated on the latest.
How does exactly does one move up the ladder in this line of work? Is it by further studies or it is by experience
It is often a combination of both. One may begin at a lower rank, say a teller and based on their abilities and skills they are gradually placed where their strengths lie. There is a lot of in house training too, for you to have an understanding of financial systems. At every stage in the career, there is training and certification of skills acquired.
The sector must be prone to some trends that players should brace themselves for, which are some of these trends?
The banking industry is growing, there is going to be a lot of competition. The competition is going to make things cheaper and easier for consumers; providers on the other hand will have to reinvent themselves to be different. This is by professionalism, reliability, and time consciousness. Providers will have to have good customer service to win over the clients’ hearts.
You have to be fast in adapting to changes and adjusting your mindset to suit different clients’ needs.
How universal is the profession?
It is very universal. Our bank for instance is all over the continent, you can move around due to transfers or promotions, banking is universal any where you go you have a chance to work.
What would you say is the best thing about your job?
The first is networking, working with multinationals provides a chance to meet and work with movers and shapers in the community. The networking is amazing. That in turn means I have to be dressed decently, and ready all the time.
Another one is learning how different businesses operate. Some of the things you learn in school may not be practical but on the job you learn so much more.
Any traits that could cause you to fail at this job?
Working in a unit as banking is, we need to cooperate, if you can’t work together, you are prone to failure. Team spirit is very important in the work environment.
What challenges should one expect to face in this line of work?
There is pressure, bankers are highly driven people, and they have to move or work at a certain pace. If you are slow, you are out. You are not likely to have time for being idle. Everything is high paced, it is a good thing but delicate as you are handling people’s money.
There are also targets, your work directly impacts on your targets, it is easily measured and tangible.
What kind of working hours do you operate within?
It is generally an 8 to 6 affair. But someone like me has to be on call since I handle multinationals and may occasionally have to deal with someone in a different time zone.
For someone looking to hold a similar position one day, what should they look out for?
They should concentrate on finance; have at least an understanding of how things work. One should also be aware even at a young age that this world is for people with information, which is something they should cultivate.