Tia Executive Director/Vice President, Global Control Operations Division, London
At Goldman Sachs, there is a wealth of opportunities for growth, career and personal development, training, travel and visibility.
I work in Client Assets, which is part of Global Control. My team is responsible for the protection of our clients’ assets. In normal economic times, this function is quite important and it is even more critical in the current environment as we regularly receive requests for information from clients who are focused on the policies and procedures that Goldman Sachs has in place to ensure that their assets are protected. In addition, the Financial Services Authority (FSA) has written to Goldman Sachs requesting similar details, which clearly indicates the emphasis which has been placed on the Client Assets processes. Working together with Legal, Compliance and the Client Asset steering group, our team reviews the processes, issues and communications with regulators and auditors on a regular basis.
On a daily basis, my team is responsible for performing calculations to determine the amount of cash and securities that belong to our clients. In accordance with the FSA Client Assets (CASS) Rules, the firm must segregate the client’s assets from the firm’s assets to ensure that clients are protected.
Throughout my day, I am often involved in various discussions concerning controls and processes that relate to Client Assets. Whenever teams have questions regarding the appropriate treatment of activity for client money, it’s my job to help provide guidance and direction including walking them through the details that support our process.
In addition to managing the process, I am responsible for providing guidance and leadership and on-the-job training to the junior members of my team to ensure growth and development of the team. This includes conducting regular team and individual meetings, career development and reviewing current projects. In addition, as part of the Goldman Sachs management team, I provide a point of escalation when needed which is an important aspect of my job.
At Goldman Sachs, there is a wealth of opportunities for growth, career and personal development, training, travel and visibility. Since I’ve joined the firm, I’ve purposely sought different types of projects which have allowed me to focus on building my technical skills and knowledge. I have taken courses in Leadership which have assisted me in developing a style which is effective in leading teams within the organization. I’m involved in affinity networks which allow me exposure to very senior members of the firm. Also, being a part of a global team has afforded me travel opportunities. This has provided me with exposure to different cultures which has been both personally and professionally rewarding.
The Client Assets organization is a very team-oriented environment. If you were to visit my team in the afternoon, you would “hear” the interaction and teamwork, as we often shout support to one another to ensure that we are on top of the daily process. It’s an intense environment, and is also very interactive and fun!
In addition to our daily role, we also work on various team projects. Given that it’s important that members of the team are constantly learning, we always ensure that multiple team members are engaged in the projects. One person may take the lead, but we will also seek input of the others in the team.
I am currently involved in the development of a new entity which the firm has developed to solve the issue of trapped assets. This is key for client asset protection, and has really been challenging over the last year. The project is being driven by the business, and it involves various operations teams. Given that it is related to Client Asset protection, my role involved a great deal of analysis to ensure that the systems being built were in line with the spirit of the FSA rules regarding Client Asset protection.
People often refer to consensus management, and how that’s important for getting the best result. In my project, there are so many groups involved that it sometimes feels that you are constantly revisiting decisions that are already made. Gaining “consensus” can be challenging at times and if not managed can be inefficient since this takes time away from moving forward to the next milestone of the project. With this project, I’ve learned how important it is to continue to get the opinion of others because everyone will bring a new perspective which may not have been captured previously! And as I’ve had to substantiate why certain decisions were made, it allows me to develop my communication and influence skills.
The most rewarding part of my job is figuring out a complex issue, and then presenting on it. From time to time, I hear myself speaking and think, ‘was that me”. One of the primary systems that my team have control over one which is very complex, and being considered the go-to person whenever there are questions is an accomplishment that I am particularly proud of. In addition, passing on the knowledge of this system to my team is also a source of pride.
I joined the firm through a program called the City Fellowship Program which provides minority American professionals an opportunity to work in London. I read an advertisement, and I thought to myself ‘hmmm, I meet that criteria, and I’d love to live abroad, so let me give it a go!’ The fellowship was for a one year period, and here I am 4.5 years later! My background is in Accounting, and prior to Goldman Sachs, I worked in one of the big 5 accounting firms. This was my first experience with an investment bank.
During my first few days at the firm, I was very impressed by how articulate my colleagues were. Even the most junior members of the team made contributions. There was a constant stream of information sharing and documented follow-ups from the meeting. It was clear to me that the teams were working together towards a common goal.
Looking back, I’d expected that I would be in the accounting field working for a prestigious accounting firm or a large corporation, but not in Operations at an investment bank. Looking back 10 years, my career aspirations were to achieve partner in one of the big 5 accounting firms. I was not familiar with Operations as a career path before I joined Goldman Sachs and took on my role in 2005. Now, I’ve found a division which is well suited to my skills and interests, as well as my strengths, so I look forward to continuing to grow by taking on more responsibility within the Operations division.
“Keep an open mind” is the advice I would offer someone who is considering a career in finance. Within the firm, there is a wealth of different career paths and opportunities. Take advantage of them.