Wednesday, April 11, 2007

What I do at RMB

First of all I would just like to thank Lesley Emanuel and Jean Power from the World of Work Training Programmes who helped me pave the way to what I have accomplished thus far. Lesley commented on my previous blog entry about my attitude that helped me become more employable. But without your support and encouragement, my attitude may have been a lot less employable :)

So, let me elaborate on my new post at Rand Merchant Bank. Currently, RMB has an outside contractor called Gary van Staden. He is a Political Analyst like me, although I lack in the many years of experience he has behind his name. Recently RMB decided to appoint its own Political Analyst. So I was appointed, and Gary is my trainer. Unfortunately I do not see Gary often enough and I would love to gain some of the vast amount of knowledge he has gathered over the years. But time will make the difference.

I am doing the risk part of what a Political Analyst does. Thus I do political risk analyses. This entails writing in-depth reports on different countries. My supervisor will tell me that RMB would like to invest a certain amount of money in a certain country, and what I will do is check whether the political scene in that country is stable enough for us to invest there. Some countries are easy to analyse. If you look at Iraq, your common sense tells you their political environment is not stable enough and you might lose a lot of money if you invest there. But if you look at a country like Brazil which, economically, seems stable, you might have to look at their political stability more thoroughly before you can decide whether their political risk is low, moderate or high.

I am working in the Credit Team for Treasury. A couple of us work on the country reports. I am the only political risk analyst other than Gary. The others will gather information on the economic side of a country, and also different areas like the infrastructure, health and education, etc. There are also credit analysts and administrators all around. I am still getting a feel for what everyone does and I learn new things everyday.

I’m hoping that in the near future I will be travelling around to gain hands-on experience in different countries. RMB encourages such activity and realises how important it is to gain contacts and build a strong network. I have already been to Cape Town to attend a business forum for investing in countries like China, India, Brazil, and the rest of Africa. And what an experience it was. People are open to gaining knowledge from others and to network and share their own understandings.

I always thought that it would be difficult for a person like me without any degree in finance to work in a corporate/financial environment. But I proved this doubt wrong when my first real job was at an investment bank. The only advice I can give to someone who has the same worry is to try and learn new aspects of your environment and what your company does every day. Make the effort to gain more knowledge, ask questions, and be open to new ideas.