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As Multifaceted as Vienna Itself

Private Banking Austria is young and growing. Over the past seven years, it has achieved or even exceeded its business targets. Support functions have contributed to that success – and Leila Nikl is responsible for three of them.

My job is as varied and multifaceted as Vienna itself. Since our branch is relatively small, with about 45 employees, I am responsible for three areas: Business Risk Management (BRM), Controlling, and Business Support. Some of my duties are closely interconnected, while others differ dramatically. In any event, they are always exciting and challenging.

In BRM, I use programs like MICOS to identify, analyze, monitor, and control various risks. Recently, for example, we discovered a system error while monitoring securities transactions – our reporting tool had yielded erroneous data. That became apparent only because the numbers were very different from our expectations – and because we were monitoring them closely. To keep track of potential risks, every quarter we compile a Key Risk Indicator report summarizing the most important issues and risks affecting the Austrian market.

In the sphere of Controlling, I deal mainly with numbers. Using a variety of tools, I regularly record and analyze our corporate data. Based on that information, I compile occasional reports for Henrik Herr, Head of Private Banking Austria, and other executives. I assist my superior, our local COO Christoph Gum, in preparing quarterly financial reports and management presentations, among other things.

My responsibilities in the area of Business Support often involve analysis as well. For example, when colleagues from Investment Consulting recommend a change in certain securities holdings, I find out which clients have these products in their portfolios.

Finally, I am responsible for a number of aspects of project management. When dealing with new investment profiles or discretionary mandates, for instance, I take care of the necessary documents and any training that is required. I am also involved when a new system is introduced, as was the case recently for form management and special tariff terms. The biggest challenge is to be precise and avoid errors; ideally, clients should not even be aware that restructuring is taking place or that new programs are being introduced.

I joined Credit Suisse three years ago as an assistant to client advisors, which allowed me to learn about the system, the programs, and the bank from the ground up. After just over a year in that role I was looking to move in a different direction professionally. My current job became available, and my superiors encouraged me to take it. I am still grateful to them for their confidence in me.

What I like most about my job is that I have such a wide range of responsibilities. No two days are alike, and things often turn out much differently than anticipated. As a result, I'm rarely able to plan my day's schedule, and I don't always have time for lunch – but I'm happy to accept that tradeoff. What I find more difficult is having to put certain tasks on the back burner. It's not uncommon for several things to land on my desk simultaneously, and naturally all of the people I'm dealing with think that their concerns are the most important. I give priority to the front office, since it's crucial that our clients are always offered the best possible solution.

On paper I may be a one-woman show, but I never work alone; there are too many areas where I interface with parent companies. In BRM, for example, I am always in close contact with my counterparts Ludovic Trottier in Luxembourg and Daniel Kury in Zurich. Here in Austria, too, we attach a great deal of importance to cooperation. Because our company is so small, we all know each other and work together, which allows us to respond flexibly to clients' needs.

When I get to work in the morning, between 7:30 and 8:00 a.m. – my commute takes about 50 minutes, although I live in Vienna – I first take a look at high-risk issues and project deadlines. Then, before I start on the day's business, I take a few minutes to set priorities in the three areas I'm responsible for. After a hectic day or a stressful week, I like to relax by going for a motorcycle ride or exercising. My ­husband discourages me from bringing work home – as does my cat. She is quite vocal in making her ­displeasure known if I neglect her in favor of my Blackberry.