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Thursday, 5 March 2009

Top bankers defend careers in finance

As bonuses shrivel and the public image of bankers takes a battering, we talk to senior financiers who still believe that their younger colleagues should stick with the sector (if they haven’t already been sacked, that is).

“Like all other professions, traditional banking is still a viable career option when normalcy returns,” says Joseph Ma, partner at National Australia Bank.

Rabobank International general manager Goh Chong Theng predicts that in the new climate, a banking career will become like: “my father's time when a banker has almost an assured long-term iron rice bowl since he will just take deposits, and make out good, safe and highly-secured loans at much higher credit margins to very good credit customers."

Peter Foo, Fortis Bank Singapore's chief executive, says banking still makes sense for those who are in it for the long-haul and don’t just see it as a way to make quick cash.

A young banker admits many of his colleagues have fallen into the quick-cash trap. He tell us: “A lot of people I know have moved on to other industries... We realised that it's really the pay and prestige that has drawn us to banking in the first place. After 1.5 years, we realised that none of us are really into banking per se.”

Frits Seegers, chief executive of Barclays’ global retail and commercial banking business, says banking remains an interesting industry. “There's a lot of technology in banking and technology is a weapon you can use in banking to get customers...In banking, you come across very interesting people, it could be politicians, it could be businessmen,” he says.

Seegers adds: “It's an analytical business. We make a little bit of money on every person. If you get a lot of customers than it becomes a lot of money.”

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