Sagar Dharwar tells us what it's like to be part of the executive office of a CRO in a major bank
It has been just over 9 months since my colleague Gunjan and I started supporting one of the CROs of a large Canadian bank. Our job is to provide focus on matters which are important to him but not core day to day matters. That ranges from what Trump is likely to do, to Saudi politics and their effect on long term oil prices. We don’t carry out day-to-day risk management but we do analyse regulatory papers pertaining directly and indirectly to risk.
Our output includes
- A morning note, which our client has at the start of his commute to work
- Special papers that he commissions
- Calls to discuss and elaborate on any of the above
While we initially worked only for the one CRO, he soon added members of his senior leadership team to our audience. Our task volumes increased as more members started getting familiar with us. Some would call and explain the task and others would just assign the task over email. Accurately comprehending and prioritizing tasks demanded that we be in constant touch with all the team members.
We found that the quality of communication increased in tandem with our work quality. By exceeding expectations, we got more share of their time which in turn helped us gain clarity and hence started a virtuous circle.
We divide the tasks as recurring and special. Recurring tasks are those that have to be submitted on a daily/weekly basis depending on data availability and client request. These have to be submitted on time without fail. Hence the two of us never take leave simultaneously. Special tasks are client driven and turnaround time can range from overnight delivery to staggered delivery over several months.
Under daily recurring tasks, we submit morning comments (7-7:30 AM client time) much before client’s markets open. Initially we would send more news snippets to know client preferences. Based on client feedback, we arrived at a list of topics that interest the risk team and ensure we update the client on any significant happenings. At the same time, the client has given us freedom to unearth interesting happenings around the globe that might be of some consequence to the bank. Once we felt confident of the basics, we started giving opinions on the news items. Our news analysis deepened and number of news items decreased.
Recently, the client has requested us to start giving out region based newsletter. This adds a new dimension to our work. The client expects us to regularly update them on major drivers in different regions as opposed to global macro. We are very excited about this development and are in the process of finalizing the delivery schedule and the newsletter format.
Special tasks include summarizing regulatory documents, improving client’s internal risk spreadsheet format, justifying our opinions/views put out in our mandatory tasks, creating financial risk models to stress test the effect of changing regulations, fulfilling high priority overnight tasks etc.
The real challenge is to manage client expectations, correctly prioritize tasks and just as importantly equitably divide tasks among ourselves so that client time is not wasted.
Sagar has been with Frontline Analysts since February 2015. He has completed PGP from IIM-T in 2014 and is waiting for his CFA charter. Gunjan has just completed 1 year service at Frontline Analysts. She earned her MSc (Finance) from ICFAI, Hyderabad and is a CFA-3 candidate.