Chloé Ajamlou started as a trainee in Wholesale Banking in October 2017. She now works in Hong Kong and will be reporting from there.
I’m writing this first blog just as I’m starting a new adventure in Hong Kong. For the next three months I’ll be working there in a newly established department serving Wholesale Banking customers in the region. Up until now they’ve been served from Singapore. I could have gone there for my STA (short-term assignment), but Hong Kong appeals to me more due to the connections with mainland China. I’ll be working there with a Hong Kong lady who has a great deal of experience of investment banking, and later with a second colleague.
This will be an interesting new chapter in my traineeship and it looks like a perfect match for my interests and requirements: I want to work for customers operating in the international market. After my studies in International Economics at the University of Amsterdam I worked as a management consultant at KPMG. I really liked it, but I missed the international dimension. A former classmate from suggested a traineeship at ING. What she told me about it sounded perfect. In Wholesale Banking you’re involved with what’s going on in the global market. It’s all about international transactions, so you have to deal with things like exchange rates and global politics. Soon after I applied for the traineeship and just became more and more enthusiastic. That’s no doubt due in part to the procedure. You get fantastic support with a real personal touch. It was excellent. At the same time I was very nervous about it, because I was so keen to get down to work.
In October I was one of nine new trainees. That makes Wholesale Banking the biggest track. For my first rotation I wanted to work in Lending, the bank’s core activity. And of course it had to be international. The Structured Export Finance department was spot on. It provides financial solutions for exports of capital goods from OECD to non-OECD countries and emerging markets. Lending to businesses in those countries often entails more commercial, financial and political risk. That’s precisely where the department’s speciality lies: facilitating financial solutions, for example by granting a loan backed by credit insurance. In the importers’ countries the financial markets are often less developed. We therefore regularly have to deal with a finance ministry acting as the borrower, which adds a certain dynamic. The department also attracted me because I wrote my bachelor’s thesis on the effectiveness of development aid.
During this rotation I saw a number of transactions, for example as a result of collaborating on creditpacks. That’s an internal approval that you have to obtain from Risk after the deal has been approved commercially. For the bank it’s very important to know what the risk is when entering into a particular deal, so all the possible opportunities and risks must be carefully assessed and analysed. I found this very interesting, because I was able to get deeply involved in this particular type of project, the various parties involved (companies and/or governments) and the economy of the country.
For my second rotation I wanted to see a completely different side of Wholesale Banking: one where I could work on my hard skills. That was certainly the case in Capital Structuring and Advisory. This department gets involved in the transaction process from a very early stage and the advice usually concerns a transaction of a transformational nature, such as the acquisition of another company. It’s important that we work closely with the various teams in Wholesale Banking that have specific knowledge of a particular product or sector. We take a deep dive into the Excel models, something that I’d never done before but was keen to do myself. We use these models and analyses to give customers strategic input.
And so now I’m in Hong Kong! I still don’t know really what to expect, but everything is sure to work out fine.
Chloé studied International Economics at the University of Amsterdam and then worked at KPMG. She likes cycling, rollerblading, skating and running – anything as long as it’s outdoors – and is an enthusiastic visitor to the College Club, an organisation that provides courses for young professionals on a wide range of subjects. Her favourite hobbies are eating out with friends and cooking at home, as well as travelling. Now that she’s working in Hong Kong, she plans to take weekend trips to the Great Wall of China, Japan and Taiwan. And apparently hiking is also fantastic around Hong Kong.