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Managing client relationships
Alan O’Sullivan is client relationship manager for Brown Brothers Harriman in Dublin. He has been with the company for four years.
8.00am: I kick the day off by checking emails and voice mail to see the updates my US colleagues have provided for me overnight. At the same time I compile a ‘to do’ list for myself, which is incorporated into my already quite full calendar. It is a super advantage having the five-hour time difference with the US, as my counterparts in the US can address any client questions after UK hours. When I return to work in the morning, any issues from the previous day usually have been researched, with all relevant information from the US waiting for me at my desk.

9.30am: Client Issues Log meeting: As a relationship manager for a number of BBH Dublin’s clients, I need to make sure I am kept up to date with all client issues on the operations side, and must also continuously update clients on new items. As a result, the relationship managers and the team leaders from the operations side sit down on a weekly basis for what we call a ‘client focus meeting’ to update everyone on on-going issues, as well as to focus on client development. It is important for both the operations side and the relationship side to be aware of client items to ensure a consistent delivery of service.

11.00am: I receive a call from a UK fund management company who is an existing client looking to launch a Dublin fund and hoping to receive a quotation from BBH on provision of fund accounting and custody services. We talk through some of the details and the strategy of the funds to be launched and agree to set up a meeting next month to review in greater detail. I request that the fund manager send additional company details to me in advance along with details of the servicing areas they would like to explore during their visit. Due to the fact that BBH is a partnership, there will be a full review of any prospects for suitability and compatibility. This structure enables a corporate-wide discussion on how a potential client can best be served by BBH. This particular client is hoping to take full advantage of distribution as a UCITS fund. I also recommend that they contact a local law firm for advice on setting up a Dublin fund. I inquire about the fund management’s OEICS business, as well, as BBH Investor Services in London is a FSA approved OEICS depositary. We agree to also discuss OEICS in greater detail at our meeting next month.

11.30am: We have a preparation meeting for a client operations / relationship visit in London tomorrow. As tomorrow’s meeting is with a client that employs a broad range of BBH services, I arrange this meeting with the fund accounting, fund administration and custody servicing team. We work through the agenda and agree on who will attend the meeting and speak to each of the items. I believe it is important that each operations group is represented at these client meetings, as this allows our clients to take full advantage of BBH’s experience and expertise.

As part of the operations meeting, we are also going to demonstrate to the client some of our new technology products, including our internet reporting tool, BIDS Worldview, which is designed to create charts and pivots from the custody and fund accounting details. This product greatly helps the client’s back office and increases productivity by allowing them to customize reports and delivery of information. I will also present BBH’s updated Fund Distribution Product, FundWorldview, which allows clients to list their funds on our Internet site (www.bbh.com). European fund companies can expand their distribution channels, as their funds will be made available through our network of European banks.

1.00pm: Lunch today is with two members of our clients communications group, currently based in Boston, who are moving to Europe in September. I explain that their move to Europe will greatly increase the support we can provide to our European clients, which is extremely important as over 50 per cent of BBH’s revenue in Investor Services (Custody and Fund Accounting Services) now comes from outside the US. BBH’s client communications group was established by BBH to work closely with clients by providing consulting services regarding such critical issues as automation efforts, support installations and access to the firm’s systems. The communications group also works closely with clients to ensure that they have a clear understanding of how to realize the benefits on offer from BBH’s suite of Internet products.

2.30pm: The US office is open and the first wave of emails and phone calls await my return to the desk. As BBH Boston also services a number of clients serviced by BBH Dublin, it is important that the relationship managers work closely on issues being discussed and new products being introduced to the client. I am arranging a client visit to our Boston office in mid-September. A colleague of mine in Boston is helping me to co-ordinate the US visit to ensure we target the right people and departments. In the meantime, I am also arranging my visit and meetings while in the US. My focus this time round will be on new products being rolled out in the US such as Securities Lending and Fund Distribution. I also will be looking to spend time with the relationship managers in the US to investigate any experiences they have encountered that may have implications for our clients in Dublin.

4.00pm: Conversion Call: BBH has a separate conversion team responsible for the smooth conversion of incoming assets. My call with the conversion team today is to discuss what would be involved with the possible transfer of an emerging market fund. The conversion team has seen the portfolio in advance and is prepared to discuss the details with the client. As the fund is invested across a number of registration markets, the documentation team walks through each of the markets and outlines what would be involved on the document side. The conversion team then walks through a planned conversion timeline with the client and assigns responsibility and completion dates. The conversion team is instrumental to the client transfer process, ensuring the client is aware of all items in a conversion and working to make the process as seamless as possible.

6.00pm: After making a final check of email and voicemail, I prepare for my meetings the next day in London and leave the office.

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