Tuesday, June 5, 2012

New Job Brings New Challenges

I've been at my new job for two weeks, and I've encountered a lot of new challenges - some expected and others surprising.

Of course the job itself is the biggest challenge: I'm tasked with building a portfolio of clients from scratch, which is something I have never done before. At my old job I spent 80% of my time managing an existing portfolio, 10% on internal/administrative issues, and 10% on marketing and business development. At my new job I don't yet have any clients, so my job is officially 90% business development and 10% internal/administrative. I've been filling my schedule with lots of meetings, lunches and happy hours with former clients, external referral sources, and new colleagues.

I've also been pouring over my new company's lending policy and deposit offerings to try to ascertain just what it is that I can and should be selling when I meet all of these people. This is more challenging than it sounds because my new company is just now building a Private Banking team in my city; I don't even have a boss yet. Published explanations of procedure are scarce, and apparently people just pick up the phone and call the head of various departments when they have a question about whether we can do certain types of loans (call the senior credit approver), what the rate should be on a fixed rate loan (call somebody in the finance department), what today's 30 year fixed mortgage rate is (call the mortgage team leader), or what kind of entity can purchase CDARs (call the head of treasury). It's great because everything feels much more collaborative this way, and I'm meeting lots of new people, but it's much more engaging which takes more energy.

This company is much smaller than my old employer and also still privately held, which is putting things in an interesting new light for me. Everyone knows everyone else for one thing - And everybody knows what everybody is doing as a result; I mentioned a large possible loan opportunity to the Private Bank manager who hired me (who is based in another city), and the next day the head of the Heavy Equipment lending group in Dallas asked me how "my real estate deal" was coming along. I didn't realize I was so "on the radar," but then I realized that everybody is. In a 2 billion dollar bank every deal has the potential to move the needle. The focus here is very simple: it's on growth and profitability so that we can go public in a few years. Everybody is excited and focused and every new client and new deal is celebrated.

In other words the pressure to perform will be much larger than I am used to. But then again I'm getting paid much more than I am used to as well.

Management is giving me and my team a lot of freedom to develop our own local Private Bank brand also, and I'm already being asked for my opinion on everything from the layout of our marketing "pitch book" to the location of my team's new suite within the building. I'm not used to having a say in anything at all, and although I relish sharing my opinion I'm still trying to figure out the balance between taking initiative and absorbing the company culture.

Another new challenge is navigating the social waters. Members of every team all the way up the ladder are on a first name basis, and some of us are (frequently?) invited to socialize with the execs when they fly in every week or two. I went to a happy hour last week with the Chairman (read: majority shareholder), the CFO, the Senior Credit Officer, the mortgage team leader, and a few other bankers; we drank and ate and laughed until 11pm - all paid for by the company of course. I got a referral from the Chairman the next week (one of his buddies/one of the bank's investors needs a loan on his ranch), but I think the CFO brushed me off as unambitious when we were going around talking about where we wanted to be in a year.

In short, I'm still trying to find my footing and remember names and titles while also learning who the real decision makers are, who might be trouble, who I need most to impress and how to impress them. The social hierarchy seems to be somewhat different than the organizational hierarchy. And I don't yet know where I stand in either system.

Meanwhile I'm trying to look my absolute best every day, smile and converse with new people constantly, be friendly but not flirty especially after cocktails, and remember to carry all my new key cards so I don't have to keep asking the receptionist for access to different floors.

lokata lokaty banki

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