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Having a history of over 75 years, United Overseas Bank (UOB) was first founded as the United Chinese Bank in 6 August 1935 by Datuk Wee Kheng Chiang. In its early years, UOB catered mainly to the Fujian community. It was then renamed as UOB in 1965.
Establishment of UOB
UOB has grown strongly over the years. It has established itself as a leading and regional bank - in Singapore and also in Asia through a series of acquisitions. Today, the UOB group has expanded worldwide in 19 countries and territories in Asia Pacific, Western Europe and North America - having a network of over 500 offices. Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand and mainland China are the banking subsidiaries of UOB.
One of the main board of directors, Dr Wee Cho Yaw, being the chairman, he takes charge of the subsidiaries of UOB such as Far Eastern Bank, United Overseas Insurance, United Overseas Bank (Malaysia) and United Overseas Bank (Thai) Public Company, President Commissioner of PT Bank UOB Indonesia and PT Bank UOB Buana.
Financial Services provided
UOB offers an extensive range of financial services through its global network and partnership with associates, giving access to services like private banking, personal financial services, commercial and corporate banking and investment banking are some of which that the bank caters to. With the diversified interests, UOB is said to be committed in providing quality products and services in the region.
In the business of credit and debit cards, UOB is a market leader in Singapore. It is also a dominant player in loans to small and medium enterprises and also private residential home loan business. UOB Asset Management being the fund management arm has been recognized as one of Singapore's most awarded fund managers.
Performance review for Q3 2010
UOB Group's net profit after tax rose 44.2% to $1,990 million for the nine months outlook as compared to a year ago. Operating profit grew 25.8% to $912 million and this was mainly driven by the higher trading and investment income. The total income increased significantly by 16% to $1,468 million.
More about UOB
Currently, UOB has approximately over 10,000 staff under its helm. I am attached to Commercial Banking - Product Sales Specialist: Factoring, which is responsible for helping the relationship managers clinch factoring deals and relating to clients on how factoring can help their financing. The aim of such financial service is to benefit both the clients and the bank.
The organisation chart of UOB can be found in Appendix 1.
2. Description of job/work assigned
2.1 Project: End-to-End Factoring Workflow
It was a project given to me and the Management Associates (MA). The task is to create a better workflow for the team using the existing one - to be able to comprehend it better. This is in view that the factoring workflow has too many steps which are not in favour to the team. It involves thirty steps and it can be very time consuming, confusing and tedious to the reader. The main purpose was to enhance the workflow such that it benefits everyone. Shortening the workflow and picking out the redundant steps were some of the suggestions made. However, the challenge faced was that the steps involved were hard to minimize or even leave out. Meetings are still currently being held to discuss what could be done to make further improvements to the workflow.
2.2 Cross Checking of the migration system
Two 'dummy' accounts are created to assist in the checking of the migration systems. This is to ensure that before the launch of the Business Internet Banking account is implemented; all necessary screenings of discrepancies are made. Checking of spelling errors, figures, dates, accounting format, etc were part of ensuring the migration has no mistakes. When an erroneous mistake was found, a description of the error is noted with a print screen attached to show the errors. After giving a summary description of the error spotted in the system, it will be sent to the IT department who is in charge of doing the software migration for the accounts.
2.3 Summary of Factoring accounts
A list of accounts that the factoring team is currently liaising and servicing was required. My task was to identify the relationship managers involved in the servicing of the accounts. I am to read through the files of the clients that have engaged in the factoring facilities given by the bank. The debtors involved, debtors' limit, credit limit and type of factoring account which was opened, were needed to be updated. This is to give the product sales team a better overview of the details as mentioned above when they are to refer to any specific client. It helps to summarize the important information as knowing who the debtors are, the limits given to both the client and debtors allows the sales team to have the facts on their finger tips when referring to the list. This gives them better information at hand than referring to the files whenever needed. The list will be updated as and when necessary.
2.4 Background check of client
Reading up on the client so as to understand the nature of business and how it functions gives an overview of what needs to be discussed in the survey call. This is to prepare well for the Pre-Activation survey with which the survey team is involved in. Before heading down to client's premise, the factoring workflow will be checked against for the documents needed. Having a good knowledge of what needs to be done and prepared helps ease the audit process. This in turns leaves a good impression to client as we are able to do business smoothly with no mishaps.
2.5 Merging of Product Manual
Target Operating Manual (TOM) and Product Guide are to be merged into one final product manual - Factoring. It serves as a comprehensive product guide for the department. It requires the thorough identification of changes in both guides and compiling the necessary or unnecessary additional info. Updating and retrieving of input forms, creating a board resolution and amendments to the manual instructions. The rationale is to ensure the manual is updated as alterations to the processes are often made. These are later being checked by the operations department as it involves processes which they are responsible for.
3. Learning experiences & achievements
3.1 Efficiency, Accuracy & Teamwork
After 11 weeks of work at UOB, the importance of being a good team player, efficient and meticulous worker was learnt.
Efficiency has its own importance. However, the underlying factor that plays a major role in aiding the effectiveness of it is time management. Without the discipline in managing time, one cannot complete his tasks on time. This being the reason will hamper and affect the quality of work produced.
In the workforce, deadlines and time management are at hand. This was often emphasized, even at school. It is all dependable on us and as to how we are to control the playing field. A basic and simple principle yet many failed to accomplish and acquire it.
The challenge sets in when the amount of workload increases. I had to complete the tasks assigned at hand and after which, taking on more tasks whenever help is required of me. I learnt that time itself is a massive restriction and only to rush at that very minute will produce less than satisfactory results. This will bring about disappointments and the lack of responsibility to the team.
Accuracy is another essential skill at work. It is pretty much emphasized in my department as we are to ensure that the debtors involved, contracts and other important related details such as invoices are not overlooked. We will have to identify the contacts (mailing addresses, contact number), any clauses stated in the contracts that might affect the business between UOB and the client and its business partners too. It is impossible to not make mistakes. I have made errors and alerted my supervisor and colleagues about it once it was being noted. It was a small mistake but it can be costly to the business deal. As it was my fault, I made the attempt to remind myself by writing a post-it note such that I will not make the same mistake again.
Working in a department means that teamwork is a must, in order to achieve a similar objective that is set at the start. Working together requires everyone to play their part, using their strengths to their advantage and overcoming shortcomings together too. Adding on, communication should be open such as to keep the ball rolling. It acts as a foundation pillar and without it, it is impossible to succeed and proceed on. It involves more than just speaking your mind, but also paying attention to others' opinions and comments.
3.2 Marketing/Survey Call
Being part of the product sales specialist team does require travelling to clients' premises and hence developing a sense of direction is vital. This is even so when hiring the cab as the driver might not be familiar with the location that we are to go to. Thus, doing a background research such as checking the street directory online and using the mobile maps helped if such situations were to arise. Keeping ourselves informed will put us at a greater advantage.
The benefit of being at an external company allows me to expand my exposure to a different nature of business. It brings about a different perspective and insight of how a non-financial institution functions. The aspect of meeting people cannot be avoided and mannerism comes into play here. Tasks have to be completed swiftly with minimal disruption to the work of others. First impressions take its toll as I represent UOB; it is of utmost importance to upkeep the image of the bank. Values like having a sense of punctuality and preparedness became more than necessary. It reflects how we place our clients and showcasing the importance of their business to the bank. Furthermore, punctuality eventually reveals one's personality. In order to gain trust from others, we need to possess this quality. Ultimately, punctuality also relates to one's responsibility.
All these are in relation to how I present myself for job interviews (in BCOMM 3) and project presentations since the start of year 1. Punctuality and responsibility are the deciding factors on how well I would fair. At school, these qualities were emphasized and it was a stepping stone showing how the real workplace will be. First impression is how people judge me.
In BCOMM 3, I was also taught how to go about engaging a sales call. Although it is not very similar to how it is done for our factoring deals, the steps involved were relevant. The elements of being persuasive and building of rapport were required. Without a good knowledge of the product or fostering a close relationship with the client, it will definitely be a hindrance in clinching a successful deal. Networking skills played a part due to the need to understand the clients' expectations. As such, the business communication module has served well in allowing me to apply my knowledge at work. The soft skills acquired were a great advantage as a whole.
3.3 Communication skills
Communication is an essential element and it has strengthened with my days at UOB. Communicating with staff or clients is indispensable at any workplace. This is because interactions are bound to exist amongst one another, especially with regards to matters relating to work.
Socializing with the colleagues starts by joining them for team lunch. This allows me to integrate and understand them better. Thus, interpersonal skills are crucial as interaction with different people every day is expected of me. It cannot be mastered within a short period of time and cultivation of the skills has to be built and picked up along the way. Continuous learning and applying the knowledge learnt in school comes in handy in this particular aspect. Being more conscious in the way I speak is necessary - etiquette came to light. This is because it will be a display in the impression of how others view me. It forms a pillar for people to identify if they want to develop a better relationship with me. Therefore, it is only through the interactions, I gained the chance to learn from colleagues in their areas of expertise.
Good communication skills helps to build strong rapport among fellow colleagues and the business communication modules of 1-3 have taught me well. An example of starting a table topic to break the ice, meeting presentations with colleagues and clients are some of which that allowed me to apply the knowledge learnt. The outreach talks to the secondary students for Ngee Ann's Open House and PolyExperience also aided my learning. Communication has been amplified ever since and I was able to comprehend what is expected of me. This became very important at work as the presentations cannot be taken lightly and I ought to be prepared at the very best of my ability.
My communication skills have thus been further enhanced due to the exposure given at work. Besides, the three years of project works and presentations done have also made it a good experience - speaking my thoughts out and ensure that all group members are clear about the instructions and understood it well.
Hence, whenever in doubt at work, I will seek my supervisor's help and counter check that I am working on the right track. I will make certain that I do according to what my supervisor should expect and this can prevent any misunderstandings or miscommunications from surfacing.
3.4 Trade and Credit Analysis knowledge
I am tasked to understand factoring and its whole procedure as it can be very complicating. This is why having a good understanding and knowledge of the product is very crucial as I am to face the workload that deals with factoring daily. I came to understand how the different contracts laid out would affect the terms and conditions binding the bank and the client. Hence, I was appreciative that I had some background knowledge of factoring and trade from Finance and International Trade (FIT), and for contracts relating to the various forms of financing from Credit Management (CM). Thus, the learning acquired from these modules has allowed me to understand my daily work better.
Besides, the advantage of gaining prior knowledge was being able to relate what was learnt at school to work. It was the hands on experience at work that I am unable to practice at school. The projects given at school were just to prepare us on how the real work force would be. An example would be the creation of contracts and proposal from a bank's perspective for both FIT and CM. It was an eye opener to me as both the contracts and proposal that I see daily at work were explained during lectures and how to go about doing a credit analysis. It involves encumbrances; the type of project financing which involves placing the different kind of charge that would be beneficial to the bank, the proposed targeted amount to be charged. Whereas for factoring, it was how the receivables are being bought over by the bank and the bank earns by charging interest and discount charges to its clients.
In addition, I am tasked to read up on the background of the client and its debtors. The reason of doing so is to be familiar with the nature of business and what would the bank be going into. This prevents the bank from purchasing the bad receivables from the clients' debtors and making losses. It plays a big concern as this would result to the inability of getting the debts owing to the bank or client and there are risks that are bound to be taken by the bank. In CM, doing a check on the client and its nature of business was emphasized and this was the same in the banking environment. This is such as to minimize the risks undertaken.
4. Relate an incident
4.1 Unprepared for work done
An incident which was encountered would be meeting the client for a pre-activation survey. It was a good exposure as I am able to get out of the office and learn the ropes. However, the process of it was hindered along the way.
Going out for the pre-activation survey is not an easy task. The purpose for the visit is to check the client's liabilities and their other commitments - this is done so by checking their accounts. The process involves having a good understanding of the business prior to going down to the client's premise. However, my colleague and I were not totally prepared and this affected the questions asked in order to clarify the details which we are in doubt with. This did not put us in a good position as the client would know that we are not prepared. We had to restructure the questions being asked and to ask for a little more time from the client. Time was being wasted in this aspect and it was not a good impression representing the bank. We realized that it involves reading up thoroughly on the background of client is vital as it would ease the inspection programme. This would then prevent the client from doubting our abilities when showing our unpreparedness.
After this incident, working conscientiously became an utmost importance. Taking the responsibility in getting my work done to my fullest ability is expected of me at all times. I learnt that in the work force, second chances are not given easily and that we will have to bear the consequences. Unlike in school, we can be given chances for mistakes made and to improve on it.
On hindsight, if being faced with the same situation again, I would ensure that my colleague and I stay calm and ask for a few moments from the client. I will have to apologize for the shortcomings and delay of time for a discussion with my colleague on what is to be done next - how to ask the appropriate question. I will apologize for the time taken and ask for their understanding.
In conclusion, I feel that from this experience, it helped me to develop my interpersonal skills in various areas. With me being composed and patient when uncertain and solving the problem faced by thinking on my feet at the very moment.
Organisation Chart of UOB
Factors that affect factoring
The following are factors that may denote situations not acceptable for factoring.
Screen shot of Client Availability Sheet
This is the information that I have to counter check with the 'dummy' accounts for the merging of the information from this software into the Business Internet Banking platform.
Any disputes and discrepancies are being checked concurrently.
Screen Shot of Business Internet Banking Platform -
The changes to be made by the IT personnel -
No of items is correct but AML O/s amt is $1,888k in BIB vs $3,315k in FactorPro under CAS
No of items is correct but Venture O/s amt is $785k in BIB vs $1,386k in FactorPro under CAS
FACTORING INSPECTION PROGRAMME
The form which was used for the pre-activation survey (survey call)