Banking veteran Meliana Sutikno enthuses over the current global recovery which has the potential not only to improve the Indonesia’s economy, but no less important, to help fellow Indonesians realize their dream of a better life.
Everyday is busy day for the Citibank’s retail banking head at one of the Jakarta’s swanky office buildings. Ever since she was assigned to head the division in September 2005, the get-up-and-go Meliana has managed to grow the business by more than 100 percent in Assets Under Management (AUM), the market value of assets managed on behalf of investors.
It’s a shining achievement, indeed, that she would not have achieved it had she not been persistent in her career path.
Soon after she graduated with an MBA degree in 1990 from University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, U.S., Meliana embarked on her first career as a management associate for Surabaya branch.
With a combination of diligence and hard work, Meliana managed to keep moving forward. Her nearly two-decade career at Citibank has given a myriad of opportunities to work in various positions, ranging from branch manager and regional branch head to retail bank acquisition head and personal financial services head before eventually holding current position.
As the helm of the retail banking, Meliana leads more than 600 staff and supervises 20 branches. The division offers a broad range of various wealth management products.
Asked how confident she is with the products, she responds, “Let’s take a closer look at our economy first. Year 2009 witnessed an increase in Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of approximately 4.5 percent with less than 3 percent inflation rate. Such economic growth will pave the way for a better investment climate in Indonesia.
“People are now in search of ways to make a better fortune. Investment firms are on the prowl with their attractive investment products. And wealth management products have become popular nowadays, not only among well-to-do individuals but also those in middle class society,” Meliana asserts.
Nevertheless, Meliana remarks that the term wealth management is often wrongly associated with investment. “It’s a false conception, as a matter of fact. Investment is part of wealth management, but not the other way around.”
She further explains that the concept of wealth management lies on the process which educates customers to allocate their money into a set of portfolios in order to achieve their financial goals – be it for health care, vacation, children education, business expansion or retirement.
With Citigold Wealth Management Banking, for instance, Meliana and her team work with their customers by means of a process called Wealth Planning. It is basically where the customers’ goals and future income targets are identified before projecting any financial gaps.
“Once we have figured out their needs or goals, we assess their risk appetites. Depending on the customers’ needs and risks they opt for, we then design a portfolio of products to optimize their wealth,” Meliana explains.
Among the products are foreign exchange (FX), time deposit, life insurance and long-term investments like bonds and mutual funds. “For conservative customers who don’t want to expose to risk, I would recommend opening a time deposit. Or they can have SuperSwitch, one of our deposit products that allow customers to place a time deposit with the advantage of switching from USD to other currencies such as AUD, EURO and Yen,” she advises.
High-risk individuals find investing in FX attractive. There is huge profit potential despite its high risk. “Some people are willing to take the risk, though the risk itself can be minimized with the help of FX specialist. And those who expect good return with less risk should consider buying insurance and investment products,” she adds.
Born in Surabaya, East Java on December 4, 1965, Meliana treats her subordinates as partners. She listens and respects everyone’s opinion so as to build a transparent management. “I always ensure everyone in my team is moving in the same direction.”
For a determined career woman like Meliana, workdays mean endeavor to be the better of a Citibank’s team player. Weekends are the days that Meliana spends quality time with her husband and her two dogs.
“I don’t have children. So, their present makes up my small family,” she says referring to Lottie and Fido, the 4-year female and 8-month male golden retrievers, respectively.
Meliana further says her activities at weekends include hanging out with friends and husband, enjoying music and reading. Notwithstanding her high dedication to her work, she is the type of person who believes the importance of taking a break.
Going back to work means planning ahead. Meliana is truly good at planning a program. “Together with my team, I have developed a 3-year plan ahead on how to build my division going forward in a much bigger way.”
In her own words, Meliana concludes, “I’d like to leave behind a legacy of making retail banking in Indonesia an entity where competitors eye Citibank’s strategy as their next plan.”
By Aulia R Sungkar. Published in HighEnd Magazine, April 2010.