The Ultimate Banker by Edwin Lim, Kaiwen Leong, PhD & Edward H. Choi

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Part self-help career guide, part introduction to the banking industry and part biography, The Ultimate Banker is the culmination and condensation of Edwin Lim’s 23 years of experience in the industry which saw him rise from trainee to Chief Operations Officer of several multi-national banks. Co-written by Singapore’s Lost Son Leong Kaiwen and Princeton undergrad Edward H. Choi, the book is an interesting insight into the banking industry.

The book breaks down the industry into clearly defined segments of Investment Banking, Wealth Management and Treasury and succinctly explains the roles of each. While global universal banks such as Citi are involved in all aspects of the banking business, operations are segregated, profits are derived in different manners, and the skill set and knowledge required to succeed in the different units are radically different. An analogy I could draw is that of banking to the F&B industry. While an award winning restaurant, food critic and wholesale seafood supplier are all elements of the industry, they are as different as businesses can be. Such is the diversity of the banking industry and one that I did not fully comprehend before reading the book.

Interspersed within the content, Edwin shares nuggets of advice with aspiring bankers and bankers aspiring to do better. They range from common wisdom distilled ‘When dealing with High Net Worth Individuals, focus on what they need as they already have what they want’, to the mundane ‘Time your caffeine intake with espresso shots instead of regular coffee so that you do not need to spend too much time going back and forth from the restroom’. Another feature of the book are ‘War Story’ sections whereby Edwin shares his own experiences and interactions with other bankers over the years. I enjoyed reading them as they gave me an insight into what goes on behind the scenes, but I often yearn for more details so that I could relate better with the situations described.

Of great interest to myself is the section on trading, where the authors explains the different derivations of Foreign Exchange namely the Spot, Swaps, Forward and Options and also the different avenues in which the trade could be conducted, such as through dealing systems, brokers and also directly with the counter party.

I have always been of the opinion that the dice is strongly loaded against retail investors. How could someone with close to zero formal education/training in the financial markets hope to spend a couple of hours a day at his or her laptop after work hope to beat the professionals who eat breathe and sleep the market? As you log in to your trading platform tonight do spare a moment to ponder about the thousands of traders huddled on trading floors all over the world watching the same markets and trading them with sophisticated algorithms real time news streamed through Bloomberg terminals. Very often I wonder if retail investors are trading because they could beat the market, or simply because they could. Reading The Ultimate Banker has just strengthened my resolve on this issue.

For newbies hoping to break into the industry, the book provides invaluable advice and information. Veterans of the industry can relate and reminisce. Investors and traders will be able to extract information and knowledge to help them up their game. For anyone and everyone who wants a better understanding of the banking industry, this book is essential reading.

The book is available in the bookstores. For more information and to buy the e-book, visit

  • I had worked in the banking industry for many years, from asset management, treasury and wealth management. Before I read this book, I thought this is just another book that covers just the surface. I was wrong. This book geniuinely reveals the truth and inside information of the industry.

    For example 1. wealth management always like to recruit pretty girls as their bankers. 2. most bankers are just interested in hitting their sales target and getting high commissions 3. you cannot treat customers’ money as money, you have to treat them like their babies. 4. layoff in banking industry due to merger and poor profitability comes every 3 years.

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