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Clariden Leu eyes 'transformers' to drive business

Published on Friday, 21 Oct 2011
Daniel Odermatt
Regional head of human resources, Asia, Clariden Leu
Photo: Todd Beltz


The private banking industry is constantly growing and evolving in Asia and, today, client satisfaction is even more crucial. According to a recent JP Morgan survey, 62 per cent of high net worth individuals in Asia hold accounts with more than five banks.

Financial institutions that successfully attract quality talent over the coming years will be best placed to attract clients. Therefore, there is an ever-increasing demand to place the right leaders to inspire and enact change, forging a path to success. 


In this increasingly volatile economy, we are seeing rapid geopolitical and economic shifts. Complex business environments require adaptable leaders and teams.

Private banks need to evolve from an 'individual-style' to a collaborative way of working. In order to attract and retain highly engaged and top-performing professionals who can adapt to change quickly, company culture and leaders need to be transformational.

What do we mean by this? Transformational leaders have the ability to inspire and create change by understanding their colleagues, improving morale and performance, and being sensitive to their needs and issues. They are excellent role models and constantly inspire the people who work with them.

Transformational leaders are characterised by the 'four i's' - identification, inspiration, intellectual stimulation and individual consideration.

They identify with their co-workers. Their charisma and authenticity spark enthusiasm, garner respect, and build confidence among their co-workers.Transformational leaders are inspirational - they not only form compelling visions, but are also able to share and inspire the same vision in their co-workers by encouraging engagement.

Individuals are also intellectually stimulated by transformational leaders who regularly suggest new perspectives by challenging them to question traditional ways of doing things, encouraging them to be innovative and approaching old problems in new ways.

Leaders who are transformational also give their co-workers individual consideration, responding to their specific and unique needs and supporting them as a trusted coach and mentor.

In contrast, transactional leaders tend to be focused on hierarchy and processes. While there is a time and place for both styles, it is the transformational leader who drives excellence in today's private banking environment. 

Programme and implementation  

At Clariden Leu, we want leaders who continuously inspire and engage individuals to create a stimulating environment.

We believe that the culture of a company and its cultivation of leaders play key roles in an organisation, and to that end, we have established a mix of off-site programmes and coaching sessions to train our staff and equip them with the right leadership skills.

Self-reflection is one of the basic focus points in our training programmes at Clariden Leu. Any leadership training course which aims to build transformational leaders should begin by encouraging self-reflection, which should revolve around key questions and concerns: Who do we admire? What do we admire about this person and what can we learn from him or her? Most importantly, what lessons can I draw from my role as a leader?

While having specific role models or leadership traits in mind can provide a guide for focused vision, a vision that is not shared by the team ultimately fails. It is important to involve the team to influence and mould the vision, ensuring that it reflects their values.

A good vision has to be flexible - leaders need to assess their vision constantly to see if it is moving the team in the right direction.

Transformational leaders should not be afraid to make changes to their vision as the team alters and evolves around them.  

Feedback and outcome 

Successfully promoting the idea of transformational leadership also allows Clariden Leu to be able to attract and retain relationship managers whose clients see them as their 'first call' adviser who they can trust to have their best interests at heart, and to provide intelligent, insightful advice each and every time it is required.

The 'four i's' of a transformational leader - identification, inspiration, intellectual stimulation and individual consideration - are essential for setting the tone for the right kind of leadership and for driving high performance in an organisation. It's not just employees that demand this - clients do as well.

Therefore, it is crucial that private banks deliver value for clients by coming up with well-rounded, high quality advice and service delivered by small teams of experts, led by leaders who inspire and influence change.

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