Bart Davidson

I’m continually finding out about new worlds

I’ve been working in Global Credit Restructuring for a few weeks now and my role is taking shape nicely. Whereas I initially expected to want to get my teeth into one or two big cases, I’m currently working on around six as the ‘second account manager’. Every customer-focused colleague within our team is an account manager, which means that you’re ultimately responsible – and are the first point of contact – for a particular file. In my role I’m fully involved in the files but the ultimate responsibility lies with the first account manager. I’ve taken over a few of the files from colleagues but a couple are completely new for our department. I like that because it means that the rest of the team are also starting from scratch, just like me.

Since the first meeting in London, just after I’d started, I’ve been abroad a couple more times. I was in Athens just a few weeks ago. At first I thought it would be a pretty relaxed trip, with some free time in the morning that I was planning to use to take in a couple of tourist highlights, but things turned out a little differently. When my alarm went off in the morning I powered up my laptop as I always do. As I checked my emails I soon realised that I could give up any hopes of seeing the Acropolis. The idea of business trips abroad sounds exotic but in reality it usually means flying out in the morning and back in the evening – all very efficient. The only sights you get to see are the airport, the tram or the taxi and the inside of the client’s office or a bank. But it often really helps the relationship to visit the office in person and talk to the people you’re working with face to face. It gives you a clearer picture of your partners and how they behave, so it’s easier to read between the lines in subsequent calls and emails. We often arrange meetings in London because that’s where the most banks are – a ridiculous amount, in fact. I was there recently for a meeting related to a major file which involves no less than 26 banks. Of course, negotiations between 26 banks would be completely inefficient so we don’t do that. The meeting revolved around a presentation by an external consultant with knowledge of the sector and experience of financial restructuring in this sector. A neutral third party providing information and chairing the meeting is invaluable, especially in a deal that involves so many banks.

Not all the files I’m working on are as big and complex as that, but there is always an element of tension to them. After all, every client ends up with our department for a reason. Although it’s far from ideal that a customer gets into financial problems, I find it very interesting to work towards a solution. Another nice thing about Global Credit Restructuring is that I work on files from all over the world – so from Greece and the UK, for example, but also from Vietnam, Sweden and Norway. Plus it brings me into contact with all kinds of different sectors: offshore, oil and gas, shipping, infrastructure...I’m continually finding out about new ‘worlds’ so it’s terrifically interesting. Furthermore these kinds of deals often involve a syndicate of banks, which means that I have contact with lots of different parties. My diary of appointments is often largely governed by other people’s diaries, and I sometimes have surprisingly little say in the matter. Sometimes it’s like a juggling act – I’m dealing with banks that I’ve never heard of before and with law firms, as well as internally with the members of my team and the front-office colleagues who are valuable sparring partners for me.

Credit Restructuring is a department where you need a lot of patience; there’s hardly ever a quick fix. After all, these are complex deals – that’s why they end up with us. I’ve found out that this offers me the perfect combination of the quantitative problem – the financials, the analysis – and working with people. Each case has its own unique dynamic which requires you to assess the interests of the various parties involved and weigh them up to arrive at a strategy that safeguards the interests of ING and its stakeholders. You won’t find this combination in many other areas of the bank at all. I was pretty sure before I arrived here, but now I know for sure: ideally, I’d like to stay in this department. So I’m delighted that I’ve recently received confirmation that I can. All the formalities have been completed and I started in my permanent role in Global Credit Restructuring International on 1 October. So this is the last blog in my series. Thanks for reading!

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