Awards for Distinction 2018 – COO OF THE YEAR

2018 Winners – Distinction

COO OF THE YEAR

SUDHIR NEMALI

Sudhir Nemali
COO, emerging markets,
Deutsche Bank Wealth Management

While I’m truly humbled and grateful for this recognition, this award is a tribute to the fantastic team at Deutsche Bank that has navigated a complex environment in 2018 with great skill and poise. From execution efficiency to directing resources to key technologies that ‘pay back’, they have had to walk and chew gum at the same time. The focus has been to serve both constituents — internal and external clients. From obsessing about account opening and radically re-engineering the account opening process to creating sleek and slick online access for external clients, the team has epitomised client-centricity. And we look forward to being a reliable partner to the ambitious business growth plans by continuing to drive efficiencies and maintain the highest of regulatory standards.
It would be a fair assumption that for Sudhir Nemali, Deutsche Bank Wealth Management’s APAC COO, the past couple of years have been arduous. That he is able to look back over this period and tick off a number of major deliverables is sheer credit not only to his leadership but also that of the private bank’s emerging markets head, Lok Yim.As a veteran senior leader within the bank and current COO, Nemali is front and centre of Deutsche Bank Wealth Management’s regional revitalisation programme — a plan that pivots on three key stages, namely ‘Protect, Transform, Grow’ — and a driving force behind efforts to imbue the business with rigour in process and compliance.

A thankless task, some might say, but Nemali has set about establishing a solid foundation for the private bank to grow in a manner that is both systematic and logical, producing demonstrable results on schedule.

The ‘Protect’ phase of Deutsche Bank Wealth Management’s regional strategy involved insulating the business from major risks amid tectonic shifts in the regulatory landscape. Under Nemali’s watch, the private bank made a point of being first in the region to achieve CRS compliance on the basis that compliance itself is conducive to sustainable growth, with every single relationship manager being provided with country manuals on cross-border rules. Furthermore, the private bank prioritised MiFID II compliance given its exposure to Europe, contracting a major consultancy to provide analysis and recommendations on how to achieve this.

At the same time, Nemali has pursued an ambitious but necessary digitalisation plan as part of Deutsche Bank Wealth Management’s ‘Transform’ phase. After rolling out a laundry list of tech-related initiatives in 2017, the private bank homed in on a few key priority areas amid a major hiring drive in the region. These included client onboarding processes which have been revamped given that an onslaught of new hires could lead to congestion in the KYC and account opening stage. In partnership with a third party, the bank has made significant progress in reducing onboarding times, leading to greater efficiency and higher client satisfaction. Plans are now afoot to both integrate AI into client screening and streamline and automate the information-gathering process for clients and prospects.

Meanwhile, Nemali, working in lockstep with Yim, was able to secure a major chunk of a €65 million injection from global into client-focused technology, in the process receiving the go-ahead to set up an innovation lab in Singapore. Opened in November, the lab is intended to pursue collaborations with regional fintech startups to the benefit of the lender’s global wealth business. That Deutsche Bank chose Asia as the site of its latest innovation hub is surely credit to the importance it places on the region and the esteem with which Nemali is held.

Sudhir Nemali is Asian Private Banker’s COO of the Year for 2018.