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The Gibraltar Bankers’ Association (GBA) are aiming to redefine the narrative behind banking, having undergone a total rebrand themselves recently. The GBA was formed over 30 years ago, with the aim of building solid foundations and partnerships with Gibraltar’s financial community. Their role is to support its members, influence Government in lobbying for change, and promote education and training. The GBA’s members today comprise of large global institutions, as well as specialist private, digital and investment banks, each offering modern-day solutions in all areas of finance.

President of the GBA, Marvin Cartwright, recognises that the industry has reached somewhat of a crossroads, and that there is now a need to reengage with the membership to lay down a road map for the future: “Financial services, and as a result banking, has an opportunity in a post-Brexit arena to challenge itself and see how it now adapts. Banks will do that in their own capacity – each have their own strategies and focus areas – but as an association we can help guide that process.”

EDUCATION

For the past 25 years, Gibraltar has seen a significant outflow of banking institutions. At the height of the early 90s, there were around 30 licenced banks on the Rock, where today there are just 10. However, this doesn’t mean that a career in banking should be seen in any way as unstable. Far from it; although the quantity of banks has decreased locally, the quality hasn’t diminished.

One of the GBA’s main objectives is to shine a spotlight on banking as a more viable, and certainly more appealing, option for young people who are ascending the first rung of their career ladders.

The GBA are working together with stakeholders such as the University of Gibraltar to get this message across to the younger generation through a series of events, highlighting the multifaceted nature of a career in banking.

Risk Manager for Gibraltar International Bank, Alejandro Vasquez, joined the GBA last year with the hope of helping others looking to forge their career path, by shedding a light on the myriad opportunities within this industry.

Alejandro graduated from the University of Kent with a BSC in Physics back in 2013 and began a career in accountancy working for one of the ‘Big Four’ accountancy firms in Gibraltar. After four years in the accounting industry working as an auditor, he decided a change in career was necessary and left to work in the Banking Sector with Gibraltar International Bank (GIB). 

“I was 25 when I decided to make a change my career path, although accountancy was not for me, I learnt a valuable lesson of the importance of hard work and passion in whatever you decide to do,” Alex shares.

“When I started at the GIB I was surprised by the diverse opportunities within the organisation, having always centred myself around selecting a specific career path I never actually took into consideration joining an institution with several of them. This is the great thing about working in a bank; the variety of different roles from IT, Risk & Compliance, Marketing, Relationship Management, Treasury & Investments, and the list goes on.” 

Alejandro undertook a role in the Account Opening Team, performing the due diligence checks for the bank and risk assessing the prospective clientele. A year later, an opportunity arose within the Risk & Compliance Team as a Risk Manager, a role in which he would engage and protect the bank from the various risks that the financial institution would encounter. From his experience in Risk & Compliance, Alejandro was appointed the Technical Lead to Regulatory & Legal matters for the GBA’s Executive Committee. 

MAKING AN IMPACT

Over the years, the association has focused on technical and regulatory priorities given the sheer volume of change in this arena over the last 15 years in particular and post financial crisis of 2008.

The GBA are putting structures in place in order to become more strategic. Over the years, the association has become a technical body, as a lot of their core focus has been on regulatory change, which there constantly is. As Marvin explains, “To be influential, and to be strategic, the Executive also need to assess the direction of travel for the industry itself and the jurisdiction as a whole. Ultimately, however, the GBA will also always have an important role to play in preparing and supporting its members for the changes to the regulatory and legislative landscape.”

As we navigate the post-Brexit landscape, we as a jurisdiction need to seek new opportunities and consider new markets, something the GBA are striving for. “We want to be part of that thought process,” comments Marvin.

Larger banks such as Barclays and Credit Suisse have been and gone; the cost of doing business in a small market for large multinational banks remains high. And so the industry must look to develop what we already have, or on something more niche, such as the digital/challenger bank space. “Realistically, if we are to grow in numbers of banks, this will be in the digital space – not in mainstream high street brands.”

If you are looking to build a successful future within a burgeoning, diverse sector, this may be the exciting new pathway for you. Alejandro shares: “I joined the GBA to make a difference. I can relate to how stressful it can be when you are young and deciding on your career, considering the several changes I made in my own career. If there is any advice I could give to young aspiring individuals, it would be to expose yourselves to different career paths and see what you are truly interested in. It is a numbers game; the more things you try the more likely you are to find your true passion, and this is why working in a bank is a fantastic opportunity to explore the variety of careers within it.”

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