Head of Client Segment ● Institutional Investors ● BNP Paribas Securities Services
As head of the institutional investor client segment of BNP Paribas Securities Services, and with a team of 220 professionals working for her, Margaret Harwood-Jones is a natural manager and liaison between clients and staff. “The excitement and challenge of interaction with people is what drives me,” she says. That goes for her working with colleagues and clients alike: “I like to get to know people, to understand them, and then to work with them to discover their problems and present solutions to solve them.”
And deliver, she does. A nearly 30-year veteran of the securities services industry, Harwood-Jones has held almost a dozen different roles spanning relationship management, trust services, fund administration and global custody at a handful of service providers, leaving her legacy with the individuals who have worked for her, and with her, along the way.
“I don’t think I ever go into a client meeting without learning something, without having the opportunity to think about something differently,” she says. “It is that constant opportunity that is presented by clients that motivates me.”
She got her start as a manager for Midland Bank Trust Corporation (Jersey), owned by HSBC, in 1983, and worked her way up through the firm (via Cambridge and London) to ultimately head the corporate trust and relationship management group of Midland Securities Services. When Midland was rebranded as HSBC Bank plc in the late-1990s, she attained the role of deputy head of its Global Investor Services group, overseeing the global custody and corporate trusts of the bank.
In reality, Harwood-Jones only “left” a job once spanning her entire career, when she was head hunted to Cogent Investment Operations Limited from HSBC in 2001. Upon joining Cogent as European director of relationship management and marketing, she soon found herself facilitating the sale of the business instead. Within a year she had taken on more or less the same role for BNP Paribas Securities Services, Cogent’s new owner. She accepted her present position in the institutional investor segment a year later, in 2003.
For an individual so entrenched in the securities services space, it is hard to believe Harwood-Jones at one time was loath to the idea of joining the banking industry at all. “I wanted to be a cartographer,” she says of her younger days. With a nudge from her parents to find a “safe business to get into”-no risk in the financial services industry, of course-she made the leap into banking. Thirty years later, she says it was a decision she does not regret.
“Before I came into the asset servicing space, very naively, I believed it would be an uninteresting space to be. Oh my golly, how wrong I was!” she says. “The business is still about people; even if the clients are huge organizations, they are driven by people. Getting to know people is at the heart of what I do.”-Christopher Gohlke