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“Learning about you is the most enjoyable part of my job”

What does a relationship manager do? We asked Raphael Gysel, who has been with Julius Baer for 15 years, out of which seven as a relationship manager for Swiss clients, to describe his work routine. The most enjoyable part about this job? Learning more about his clients. His best friend in the morning? His filter coffee machine. The best part of his day? Putting his two toddler boys to bed.




Caffeine – my early morning saviour
At about 5.15 am (yes, you have read this correctly), I get out of bed and start my day. My best friend in these early hours is my beloved filter coffee machine. I don’t know what I would do without its reliable help. I catch the train and usually arrive in the office before seven, after enjoying a nice 10-minute walk from the train station. The time before 8 o’clock – when most of my colleagues arrive – is precious. Without distraction, I can prepare my day, check the news on CNBC-TV, finish an upcoming presentation and review my clients’ portfolios.

At around 8, the four members of my sub-team and I have our team coffee to meet, greet, coordinate and jointly plan the day ahead. I appreciate my colleagues very much as they always know a funny joke or different solution to a problem I am thinking about. After this second, important caffeine injection, I currently work on adding and updating our client records as part of the ‘Know Your Client’ initiative. It is crucial to have the evidence of your identity, businesses, beneficiaries for whom you might hold assets, their origin, etc. – it’s a long list which I have to know.

Markets open, let’s go
Shortly after 9 am I check the stock markets and then my role becomes social again: I start preparing my client meetings, often in collaboration with our internal specialists. Having sparring partners is key in finance as we cannot all be subject-matter experts.

Family, politics, fear – and paperwork
Usually, the time from 10 to 12 is an excellent opportunity to meet some of my 75 clients. I always gain additional knowledge about their views on the markets, politics, family-related topics, fears and many other personal topics. This is pure private banking in my view! It is critical to understand who you are. Learning more about you is the most enjoyable part of the job. Less enjoyable is the associated documentation that must be completed for the regulators. I understand the requirement, but am of the opinion that the industry needs to find better ways to automate these processes.

“Eat and greet”
One or two days a week I have a client meeting that is followed by a lunch. In the meeting we mostly talk business, at lunch we mostly talk private: family, holiday, sport, politics, movies – the list goes on. I believe that everybody has an interesting story to share, if you only listen attentively. When I’m not lunching with a client, I go out with colleagues or friends who work nearby. Zurich is a small city so I have quite a few friends who are also working in the area. Since I used to live in Dubai for a couple of years, I still miss a good Indian restaurant. Any recommendation is most welcome.

Voicing an honest opinion
Between 1 and 2 pm I’m back in the office, picking up where I left off pre-lunch. Each client has its own character and needs, which I try to cater to the best way possible. At some banks, relationship managers like me are restricted: they can serve clients only from specific countries or with specific profiles. Julius Baer is not so rigid, but my colleagues and I do tend to specialise. My focus lies on the Swiss market and I always try to be straightforward with my clients: I voice my honest opinion and want to show you that you have chosen the right bank and the right relationship manager.

Before heading home
A few evenings per month I attend an after-office event. This may be an external seminar at a business forum or some internal settings about a reception for lawyers and fiduciaries, art exhibitions, or a research presentation. These seem to come in waves. One week is jammed, and then 3 to 4 weeks will go without any. I am also an examiner for financial-license tests, which are similar to an ISO Certificate in other sectors and became state of the art in the industry in order to guarantee a minimum standard of consumer protection, client meeting experience and service quality. I try to use this time of the day to correct exams.

Happy hours – but not the way you think
At 6 to 6:30 I head home to my wife and our two toddler boys. My desk is full of photographs and pictures of them. She has taken care of the boys up until now, so I love to at least spend the evening with them and put them to bed – that’s my favourite task of the day.

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