From roving salesman to wealth manager
From a roving salesman of everything from bath soaps, laundry detergents to toothpaste, Frank Sevilla rose to become the highest ranking Filipino at Lloyds Bank—one of England’s oldest banks— when it first opened its office in the Philippines in 1977.
Today, after more than 40 years of work with different international finance and nonfinancial companies in various places like Hong Kong, New York, Singapore, Indonesia, the United Kingdom and The United States of America, Frank is using everything he knows about finance, risk management and wealth management as a Financial Advisor in Chicago. He not only advises his clients on how best to create, build and protect their wealth, he also manages their investments.
Though you may think it would be hard to transition from managing the financial operations of some of the world’s largest institutions to advising and dealing with private and individual investors, Frank says it is actually a perfect fit.
“My role and responsibilities with the big international firms have always been about risk management, asset allocation, cost control, cash flow management–and I find that all these things apply to individual investors as well.
Whether you’re managing billion dollar corporate finances or multimillion dollar and/or something smaller for individual investors, you still need to manage risk, decide on which asset class to hold and to look after your cash flow. It’s not really that different,” Frank says.
Did he always want to be in finance? Did he set out a career path that led him to a number of high profile international positions?
Frank says he was not sure then. He was not even sure of what he wanted to do when he was in school.
One thing he was sure of then was that he wanted to become a manager.
“In my mind, I’ve always had this idea that I want to be in management position. I wanted to become a manager,” Frank says.
This idea must be at the back of his mind so it did not bother him that the first job he got right after college was as a roving salesman.
“It was a nice job, and I got to travel to different places and I met many people from all walks of life. I enjoyed it and it taught me a lot about how to deal with different kinds of people,” Frank says.
His entry into the world of high finance started with an investment bank that dealt in government securities and commercial papers. So, from selling mundane household items Frank
went to buying and selling multimillion peso worth of bonds and securities.
“We were dealing in millions of pesos worth of transactions. We dealt with individuals, corporations, financial institutions and government entities.” he states.
The job gave Frank a solid foundation into the world of trading and investment banking. When some international banks, including Lloyds Bank, started setting up shop in the Philippines then, Frank’s name was on the list of candidates to join one of those Overseas Banking Units (OBU).
“I used to deal with many other bankers and some of my contacts at the Central Bank recommended me for the job at Lloyds Bank,” Frank says.
In the Philippines, Frank started as a Foreign Exchange Dealer, became the Chief Dealer and then the Deputy Branch Manager. From there he became the Assistant Treasury Manager for Asia/Pacific based in Hong Kong. Frank was the highest ranking Filipino in Lloyds Bank at that time.
In those days the bank was very active in foreign exchange and money markets—which involved buying and selling foreign currencies as well as borrowing and lending huge amounts of foreign currencies on short and medium-term basis.
“Besides funding the multimillion US dollars equivalent of foreign currency loans the branch made, my team of dealers were taking their own foreign exchange and money market positions. You can just imagine our positions could fluctuate on a daily basis,” Frank says.
During that period, Frank and his team were already dealing with international banks and not just those in the Philippines. They were transacting business with banks all over the world.
“Lloyds Bank provided me with very good training. From the moment they hired me they sent me to different management training programs almost every year,” he says. And as he rose up the rank at the British bank, Frank took on more responsibilities that gave him a well-rounded experience in almost all aspects of finance. Coupled with his targeted training, including his studies at Manchester Business School, Frank was cementing his expertise in the international finance arena.
Two things have always been the hallmark of Frank’s career— integrity and responsibility.
“My parents taught me to always operate with integrity and honesty. And that’s been a guiding principle for me all throughout the years,” Frank says.
When it comes to taking responsibility, Frank has a wise and sensible strategy. “I’ve always asked for more work and more responsibility. My principle is that if you take on more work, do the job that is of a higher position than what you have at the moment, so when you ask for promotion, it will be only for formality because you are already doing the job.”