Leave it to Max Meurer to show us how to make the most of the once-in-a-lifetime opportunities offered by the Julius Baer Graduate Programme. Each year, the eighteen-month programme is offered to ten new graduates and comprises three six-month assignments, which can also take place at a Julius Baer office abroad – something that caught Max’s attention from the very beginning.
It was 2018 and Max Meurer had just completed a Master of Science in Finance at Frankfurt School of Finance & Management in Frankfurt. And with a Bachelor in Business Administration from the Hochschule Fresenius in his riverside hometown of Cologne and Pace University & Berkeley College in New York already under his belt, not to mention summer school in San Francisco, his international journey had only just begun.
In October of that year, Max began working at Julius Baer in the bank’s Graduate Programme. This, however, wasn’t his first encounter with the 130-year old bank.
In fact, he had already worked for two years at Julius Baer’s Frankfurt office while finishing up his masters. He credits these two years as the perfect segue into the Graduate Programme: “I feel honoured to have been given the opportunity to kick-start my career at the global headquarters in Zurich,” he says.
Kick-start in Zurich followed by Asia
As Switzerland’s largest city, Zurich was host to Max’s start as a graduate. “In my first rotation I worked in the Fixed Income Investment Management department,” he says. “My responsibilities ranged from the preparation of investment proposals and mandate reviews to participating in client-facing meetings.”
The nine-month stint went by faster than expected and, before he knew it, Max found himself in metropolis Hong Kong working for Julius Baer’s Strategic Investment Advisory team. “I was tasked with a lot of really interesting and diverse topics while there,” he says. “I created an Asia client management tool that optimises client book analyses, and participated in the bank’s Asia Service Model Rollout, for which I also attended a workshop in Singapore.”
London calling, amid a pandemic
Currently working in cosmopolitan London for Julius Baer’s Multi Asset Investment Management department, Max dedicates his working hours to diverse tasks, including creating investment proposals and pushing forward the marketing and sales initiative for one of the bank’s UK-based equity strategies.
And although he has settled in well into his new team, Max has had to adapt not only to England’s cultural differences, but also guidelines imposed by the recent coronavirus pandemic. “It hasn’t been easy,” he admits. “But I’ve realised communication with colleagues is key, especially when you’re not present physically. I take part in daily catch-ups over the phone and video and have been positively surprised by how efficient remote work at Julius Baer has been for me.”
And what about keeping in touch with friends and family? “I chat with them over video whenever I can,” he says. “Julius Baer actually offered me the chance to work from either Switzerland or my home country, Germany, during this time, which just goes to show how flexible the programme is, and how much they care about their employees.”
With only a few weeks left before he and his graduate colleagues finish the programme in September 2020, Max reflects on what aspects of the programme have stood out to him: “One of the best parts has definitely been the international rotations. They’ve exposed me to different business functions and development opportunities, not only in the private banking sense, but also interculturally.”
“On a more personal level, I appreciated how human my entire experience was. Not only did I receive helpful support from the programme leaders and my superiors, I was also able to enjoy the benefits of a tight-knit graduate community. We all know each other well.”
As for what he has learned along the way, Max says: “Aside from the skills that I developed through working on a variety of challenging tasks, I would say that self-leadership and communication skills are of predominant importance in order to maximise learning.”
I’ve realised communication with colleagues is key, especially when you’re not present physically.
“Working in different regions and cultures – especially in Asia – gave me the opportunity to consolidate my knowledge on an intellectual, but also intercultural level and better understand how Julius Baer works as a global financial institution,” he says. “By taking on roles in different departments and at different locations, I’ve gained a wider perspective of wealth management. It’s a great opportunity to network with diverse and international colleagues and to leverage that network in your job.”
Making the most of this experience
With September just around the corner, is there any advice Max would give others interested in the programme? “This offer provides an environment of opportunities to create a strong network among all hierarchy levels and the possibility of getting insights into a variety of business streams, so it is up to anyone interested to seize it,” he says. “And be proactive – every coffee or lunch you share with someone is a chance to learn – people here are very open to share their insights and experiences.”
So what’s next for this dedicated young professional? “I have always been passionate about client service – building relationships that are based on trust is my intrinsic motivation, and my goal is to ultimately work in a client-facing role in which I can leverage my investment knowledge,” he says.