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Building continuous client relationships

Gert Rautenberg, global head of transfer agency product for Brown Brothers Harriman (BBH), explains how he enjoys solving complex problems to create long-term growth and profitability.

Tell us about what you do.

I am a member of the management committee of BBH Hong Kong and also the global head of transfer agency product for BBH. In these roles, I am responsible for local and regional coordination to deliver services to our clients, which are global asset managers and financial institutions. I am also responsible for the strategic leadership of our transfer agency and distribution support services.

What do you like most about your work?

It gives me the opportunity to work in an environment of change and growth. Throughout my career, I have enjoyed being challenged by changing requirements and the growth opportunities these have created. At BBH, we like solving complex things. We believe that the ability to master those challenges provides us with an opportunity to create long-term growth and profitability, which in turn attracts the best talent.

How did you get to where you are today?

I started my career in auditing and consulting, which was a good training ground for thorough business analysis, methodical approaches to building business solutions, and the importance of a strong client-service culture. Coming from an entrepreneurial family, I always felt an urge to start my own business at some stage, which I finally did together with a few colleagues in 2010. We built a shareholder services organisation in Luxembourg, which was then later acquired by a large European bank. After having supported the organisational transition of the business, I then subsequently wanted to return to an owner-managed environment, which brought me to BBH.

What are the biggest trends in banking operations right now?

The banking and financial services world is undergoing massive changes. As business models evolve, banks are reevaluating the composition of their business portfolios. In this context, banking operations are being increasingly viewed as a less risky and more stable source of revenue. At the same time, the introduction of higher standardisation and automation will require organisations to very clearly identify their real added value in order to noticeably differentiate themselves in this space. This means more change and more opportunities for growth for smart organisations.

We are observing increasing trading volumes, changing regulatory requirements and specific local-language requirements in Asia. In this context, higher standardisation and automation can help cope with these challenges. We also regard it as important to support specific distribution strategies for each market in Asia in order to be successful and generate meaningful results.

What are the biggest differences between working in the back and front offices?

These days, it’s not quite as easy anymore to differentiate between front and back office. The so-called back office provides more opportunities to learn about the development of ongoing client relationships, which I believe is central to long-term business success. I have experienced front-office activities as often being related to “executing transactions” and “doing deals”. This also has its attractions, but my personal preference is to work on continuous client relationships as opposed to doing one-off deals.

What types of people in the back office tend to advance faster?

There are many attributes which support success, but if I had to pick one, then it would be the commitment to quality and client servicing. Being prepared to go the extra mile to make sure that everything possible is being done to achieve client satisfaction is key.