Insights from an ANZ Senior Manager based in Singapore

The May issue of the newsletter for Advance, an organization that connects the global Australian Diaspora, interviewed Lim Lay Wah, who, after almost two decades with Standard Chartered, joined the ANZ team in Singapore as the Head of Financial Institutions Group (FIG), Asia, Pacific & Middle East, and now Global Head of Funds and Insurance in August 2008 when the bank was a relative newcomer to the region.

In the interview, she said the following about her role and about building a business in Asia:

I need to make sure we are constantly looking at where we can play a relevant role in our client’s business growth and development whilst also making sure we have the right people (fit for growth) and solutions in place to be able to deliver. We look at our customer requirements on an end to end basis and our staff need to have a deep knowledge of their client’s respective industries to provide value add and differentiated solutions.

Building the business here has not been easy as Asia is made up of many diverse and complex individual regulatory markets. Our people are our most important asset and they are the key to bringing in the right customers and finding the right solutions for them.

On the subject of leadership philosophy, Lim Lay Wah commented:

Diversity is very important to me and having a complementary mix of good male and female leadership within the bank is very important. Women tend to have strength in multi-tasking and “caring”,  as well as being passionate about their work. Those are good traits that can be balanced out by a male approach, which can be more objective and ambitious.

I believe a different leadership style is also needed for generation X and Y employees. I drive our business together with my team and give them recognition and support for their efforts as I think it is really important to reward achievement.

She was also asked about other Australian companies operating in the Singapore that impresses her:

I think Macquarie Bank has done a good job in expanding in Asia with their investment banking focus. Bringing that structured capital knowledge in Asia’s infrastructure build out has been their strength.

Finally, Lim Lay Wah had the following advice for entrepreneurial Australians looking for a start in Asia:

I would start in Hong Kong or Singapore. The potential for financial services and commercial companies in North East Asia is huge and the market is more developed. South East Asia is still an emerging market (except Singapore as a good hub in the region) hence, the value proposition and strategic positioning would be different from both NEA and SEA region.

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