Bank seeks associate with right attitude

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 27 January, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 27 January, 2007, 12:00am

As Asia's infrastructure requirements continue to grow in line with the improvement in local economies, there is a greater demand for skilled project finance bankers.

Project finance involves lending to large-scale infrastructure projects, typically with a syndicate of commercial banks. Lenders have limited or no recourse back to the project's sponsors but rather rely on the project's future cash flows to repay their debt.

KBC Bank, a Belgian bank with 50,000 staff globally, needs an associate for its global project finance to join the 70 employees in the Hong Kong office.

This was not a nine-to-five job with very specific, mundane day-to-day duties, said Jackie Surtani, KBC's head of project finance for Asia-Pacific.

'The successful candidate could be working on a new power deal in Thailand one week, writing a waiver on an existing petrochemical project in China the next week and preparing a presentation to a new client in between,' Mr Surtani said.

The appointee will report to the regional vice-president for North Asia and will have the opportunity to travel in Asia and meet KBC Bank's customers, other bankers, lawyers and engineers.

KBC is a medium-sized bank which Mr Surtani described as strong enough to withstand economic downturns, but not too large to become impersonal and overly bureaucratic.

'The work [of the associate] is intellectually challenging but the small team spirit makes it fun,' he said, noting that there were 10 people in the project finance team.

The ideal candidate should have a university degree with some relationship to finance and four to five years of relevant banking experience. Mr Surtani said applicants with an accounting, engineering or legal background could also be excellent project finance bankers, and he encouraged them to apply.

Mr Surtani said that having the right attitude was even more important than being well qualified.

'I prefer an honest and straightforward person who can admit their lack of experience, rather than somebody who is pretending to be something that they are not,' he said.

'We are looking for a team player who is not arrogant, is constantly looking to improve his or her skill base and is enthusiastic about their job.'

The amount of travel necessary will depend on the number of deals the person is involved in and where.

Typically, travel will take place during weekdays. Mr Surtani said there was no fixed career path, but an associate should become a senior associate within two years if they performed well, and a vice-president a few years after that.