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From data science to managing risks: James’ and Noëlle’s passion for risk and compliance

Noëlle and James are talents in our Compliance department. Both 28, they’re passionate about jobs that let them be themselves, to make a difference within the company and society as a whole. Whether modelling client risks or vetting new clients, they share a pride in working for Julius Baer.

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Noëlle, what do you love so much about working in compliance?

“I never thought I would end up in a bank or in the financial world or anything like this. I had no idea what compliance meant five years ago. Initially, I did an internship at another bank after finishing my bachelor’s degree in International Relations in Geneva. After trying asset management and deciding it wasn’t for me, I discovered compliance. I remember joining the account opening team for their weekly meeting on a Wednesday morning, where the compliance officers discussed various performed due diligence procedures, including anti-money laundering aspects. And, I literally fell in love with the job. I am passionate about investigating compliance matters in order to support Julius Baer in taking risks according to its risk appetite. The ethical element of the job is very important to me.”

Turning to you James, I know that you’re also passionate about the job. Can you tell us why?

“Broadly put, my passion and my job coincide happily for me. I use techniques in data analytics to identify risk management issues and to model client risks, which contributes to improving the resilience of Julius Baer for its clients and stakeholders. Like many millennials, I came of age in the direct aftermath of the financial crisis, and so the resilience of financial institutions and improving their ability to serve society appeals to me. I joined the company in 2018 as part of the Graduate Programme, having just finished a doctorate in Biophysics in London. After a year which I spent partly in Singapore and Hong Kong, I was asked to head up a newly formed data science team in 2019.”

What are your biggest challenges, James?

“My biggest challenges are reformulating very complex problems into bite-size issues. Firstly, you need to be able to explain your approach to management and to your other stakeholders. Then you need to be able to focus the direction of resources to produce a tangible outcome. That’s the biggest transition I had to make between working in academia, where you tackle open-ended philosophical problems, to actually providing tangible business value. That’s the nexus where I sit, and where my team sits.”

Noëlle, what is it that you like so much about working for Julius Baer?

“I’m proud to work for Julius Baer because, honestly, the work culture is great. Everybody makes you feel welcome: they value your ideas, your opinions. You’re not just a new joiner that has to follow. They give you opportunities and new projects to empower you. In my first month, I was put on two new investigation projects. They didn’t fully know me yet but they trusted me and made me feel important. The other week my team asked me to make a presentation about the NGO I run during my spare time for homeless children, teenagers, and young adults in India from a compliance perspective. Employees are at the centre. This is what makes Julius Baer unique.”

James, would you agree?

“The thing that makes Julius Baer a fantastic place to work is that we are very agile compared to our institutional peers, but we’re still a relatively large company. That means if you’re a young person and have a good idea, management is in a position to listen to you and you can have a real impact. If you want to drive things forward you can.”

Do you feel proud working here?

“Definitely. I’m proud to work for an institution that has a sizeable impact on society and serves clients from around the world. I’ve been trusted by senior management to work on complex and interesting problems throughout my tenure at Julius Baer. It’s been an interesting journey and continues to be a lot of fun.”

What tips would you give for people wanting to work here?

“I think perhaps it’s less about what they need to know. It’s more about what they’re willing to learn. Besides the technical competency, you need to be passionate and to question things, and want to make an impact.”

And Noëlle, to finish can I ask you what cliché annoys you most about working in compliance?

“I know lots of people think compliance is tedious or disagreeable. For me, it’s just the contrary. When I talk to them I really try to change their view. People do not understand how important anti-money laundering and compliance is today. Today you can find compliance everywhere – it’s part of any kind of business.”

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