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Meet Schiwa Niku, Head of Europe KYC Relationship Management, Frankfurt

This is a fantastic opportunity to try something new and grow my career.

From Trade Finance to Investment and Corporate Banking, all of Schiwa’s experience to date has made her the ideal person to lead our specialist European Know Your Customer Relationship Management (KYC RM) team in Frankfurt.

Schiwa joined Barclays Frankfurt office in 2010, bringing with her extensive experience in trade finance as well as experience in OTC Derivatives and IBD operations. Her first role at Barclays was in Investment Banking, Markets as Sales Assistant for Structured Products, a new position where Schiwa took on the responsibility of growing the role for Germany and Austria within the European framework, while also taking local requirements into account.

After four years with this team, Schiwa was given the opportunity to make a move into Corporate Banking. She joined a small Trade Finance Operations team, where her specialist experience of the subject proved invaluable. After four years, she was promoted to team leader, and spent the next four years developing the team and the function, before she was presented with a great opportunity that would make the most of her skills and experience in Markets and Corporate:

I’d worked with KYC matters in my previous roles. So, when a new team was formed for KYC Relationship Management in Barclays Europe, I knew it would be a team where I could make an impact, so I applied for the Vice President role, and got it.

KYC is the process where the bank really gets to understand a new customer, and it can be complex. Schiwa saw a great opportunity to develop this key process with a truly European focus; a chance to shape the function to take into account specific European regulatory and legal requirements. And the team is already achieving a great deal.

Schiwa talks about how this local team is fast becoming a centre of excellence in KYC. From their Frankfurt base, they cover Germany, Spain, the Netherlands and Sweden, and their local knowledge has improved and streamlined the client experience – which leads to more business for the bank. She explains:

By focusing our process on the needs of European clients and the markets in which they operate, we will be able to create more opportunities. When we remove obstacles, our clients are happy and we can do more business.

Setting up this focused European KYC Relationship Management function has not been without its challenges. Schiwa talks about the importance of helping the business to communicate to clients the particular benefits of working with Barclays, as opposed to their more familiar local banks. Sometimes this means joining client meetings in order to demonstrate how smooth the KYC process can be, explain the process and legal background for specific requirements, and to build trust that Barclays thoroughly understands local nuances and requirements.

In this role, which covers all business areas, Schiwa draws upon her vast experience in Investment and Corporate banking, and her knowledge of Barclays German franchise. Her long career has given her a deep understanding of the bank’s values and processes, as well as how to communicate well with a wide range of different stakeholders. She says this is the first role she’s had where everything she has learned, and the contacts she’s established, can be brought into play. The role is giving her great satisfaction, and she enjoys being part of Barclays Europe:

I love that Barclays Europe is so diverse. All the European countries have different qualities, and so do the clients of course. Spanish clients are different from Germans, who are different from the French, and so on. And our diverse colleagues are all different too. There’s a lot of variety between the nationalities and cultures, but we can all work closely together.

This diversity makes Barclays Europe feel like a multicultural family to Schiwa, and one she gets a great deal from. Barclays as a whole, she says is “the bank of diversity,” and she is constantly impressed by the bank’s respectful approach to diversity across the global business.

Schiwa herself is an active member of the Barclays WIN Frankfurt team, whose mission it is engage all genders to attract, develop, promote and retain women at all levels of our organisation. In addition Schiwa represents the interests of her colleagues on the local Works Council.

The sheer scale and scope of Barclays operation makes it a place where there are many opportunities for broad and rewarding careers:

I can’t say it better than this: it’s a place with loads of opportunities due to the diversity, the different countries and branches. We encourage mobility, and there are many open doors – you never need to stay in one role, and you will always be offered new opportunities. You can have the confidence to speak about these things, and people are so openminded.


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