Being a consultant – a rollercoaster of challenges and opportunities

This is a case about my first years at TriFinance’s business unit Financial Institutions. It could be summarized as a challenging period in which I learned a lot about finance, financial processes, regulation and especially about myself.



Clients

Over the past two years, I have been working on several projects at different financial institutions. I got the opportunity to start my professional career at a well-known Belgian private banker to support the finance department to cope with work overload. Next, I was given the opportunity to gain a lot of knowledge in investment bookkeeping and asset-liability management during a project of 1,5 years at a Belgian insurance company. Currently, I take up the role of Business Analyst Finance at one of the biggest Belgian insurance companies.


Why TriFinance?

Clients choose TriFinance because of our hands-on mentality combined with our willingness to share knowledge and develop ourselves and our colleagues. The fact that TriFinance puts its consultants first is a well-known principle in the financial institutions' sector. Together with our good understanding of the financial institutions’ organisation and processes, these are all key drivers through which we offer added value to our partners.


My Challenges

The first months of my professional career have been very challenging from the start. I had the opportunity to become responsible for the end-to-end bookkeeping of the whole investment portfolio of an insurance company. As a result, I gained technical knowledge of general bookkeeping, investments bookkeeping, BEGAAP vs. IFRS, statutory reporting to the regulator and the implications on other departments. This experience enabled me to assume additional responsibilities such as being the point of contact for audit purposes and setting up more effective and efficient internal controls on the management of the investment portfolio. With this mission, I realised my ambition to deepen my knowledge of investments products and asset management.

Because of this, I was able to take up the role of a Business Analyst Finance to support a big Belgian insurance company with its further development in the non-life insurance industry. My focus here is on process documentation/improvement and knowledge sharing with different departments such as operations, technical support and finance. Putting in place a totally new process is not only challenging because it should function perfectly, but also because of the resistance of people against any change.

As a consultant, we are challenged on several topics and in several ways. The greatest - but also most rewarding - challenge is to become an integral part of the client’s internal team. Internal teams appreciate an open approach and the willingness of consultants to fully integrate into their team. Only when our clients no longer consider us as an external consultant, but as a true internal colleague, the project can go full steam ahead.


The Results

The main deliverables of my assignments can be divided into two big building blocks: Bookkeeping, Reporting & Analysis on investments and Process Improvement/Documentation.

  • Bookkeeping, Reporting & Analysis on investments: At my first big mission, I became responsible for the end-to-end bookkeeping process of the investment portfolio. This also included periodically reporting to internal (Asset-Liability Management, Risk Management, etc.), external (Auditors, Group, etc.) and regulatory (NBB) stakeholders. On top of this, I set up an ongoing follow-up of the investment portfolio from scratch. This control tool included pricing analysis, the identification of potential (non-) financial risks, scenario analysis and cash predictions. This follow-up became a living document used by the Investment Committee to make important decisions on investing or divesting and cash management.
  • Process Improvement/Documentation: A well-appreciated skill of a consultant is the ability to keep a helicopter view on a certain process and then dig into the process step by step without losing this helicopter view. This enables the integration of some quick wins and further improvements in different processes. I managed to improve the incoming and outgoing cash process with regard to insurance premiums and shared the gained knowledge with different teams at the client. The moment a process is running smoothly, our work as a consultant is far from done. The documentation of processes, ways of working, log-in procedures, … are all essential for a smooth knowledge transfer towards internal colleagues. This is a key point to add value for our clients and I always put great emphasis on this. For my current client, I am documenting the end-to end cash process of an insurance premium, starting from the creation of the contract/premium until the reception of the money. This documentation will ensure the client’s business continuity with regard to this business activity, which once again shows the importance of process documentation.

My personal growth

Besides my extended knowledge on investment bookkeeping, investment products, asset management basics and financial processes, I also developed myself on different other levels.

As a member of the TriFinance Risk Management & Compliance Practice, I am actively involved in different regulatory domains such as Anti-Money Laundering, Resolution Planning and Solvency II. The Practice offers a good mix of seniority and aims at actively sharing knowledge while each working on different topics.

To further deepen my general perspective on economics, social behaviour and psychology, I joined the TriFinance Book Club. Every 2-3 months, a few active members present a book on a socially relevant topic. The purpose of these meetings is to enable discussions and knowledge/idea sharing in an open and safe environment. My personal goal is to actively contribute during these discussions and to present a book myself in the near future.

Last but not least, I managed to realize my personal ambition to combine finance and sports by developing my own investment portfolio with a small part focusing on sports investments such as stocks of football clubs and investment funds following different sports teams. Furthermore, I also try to keep my sporty mindset by playing in two different Futsal teams and being responsible for the organisation of one of those teams.


For more info, you can contact Gwen De Bruyn (gwen.debruyn@trifinance.be or +32 471 59 94 92).
For more case studies: Take a look on our website www.trifinance.be.

Publicatiedatum: 2 februari 2020
"The greatest - but also most rewarding - challenge is to become an integral part of the client’s internal team." Gwen De Bruyn - Project Consultant
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