Day in the Life of Standard Chartered's Sunil Daswani

Day in the Life of Standard Chartered's Sunil Daswani

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Day in the life of Sunil Daswani 

 This article is part of the 2023 Spring Magazine, which can be accessed here.

“A day in the life”, spotlights inspirational trailblazers in the financial industry. In this issue we are proud to have spoken to Sunil Daswani, Global Head of Agency Securities Lending, Standard Chartered Bank.


If you could define your journey in the industry with one word, what would it be and why?

Educational. I have worked in every area of securities finance from front to back, from an individual in operations to managing global teams. This has also spanned over five organisations. At every step of the way, I have learnt new skills – technical and personal – through experiencing different market cycles. It’s wonderful to be in a place and role where you can look back at the experience you have gained and use it to help others on their career journeys and work through new situations that arise, be it market impact, geopolitical or risk in the many forms that it comes.

What are some big challenges you have faced and how did you tackle them?

When I look back through my career there are two which stand out. The first was the global financial crisis in 2008, and the aftermath which was still felt in the following years. The second were regulations and the unintended consequences of which made business more restrictive.

As with these challenges and any that you encounter in life, you seek to understand the issues. And most importantly, to protect your clients through transparency, being available to answer questions and be reassuring that if you do not have an answer that you will find out and get back in a timely manner.

Teamwork and collaboration of course come into play also, as you are surrounded by a wealth of experience from everyone in the team – the newest members as well as the longest serving people. It’s important to listen and to foster an environment of openness and for everyone to thrive, to not just solicit feedback but then to bring about any change to improve processes or the general workplace.

How has the industry changed over time? What changes are you yet to see?

Regulation, regulation, and more regulation. As we continue to see large organisations come under scrutiny, whilst a lot has already been done to protect investors, it’s clear that more still needs to be done. What I have particularly liked is the opportunity to comment on proposed regulations. What I have seen is the importance of industry associations bringing participants together to discuss these issues and then to take the lead to collate all the information concisely to respond to any proposals by regulators.

What advice would you give to newcomers joining the industry from diverse backgrounds?

Identifying as someone with an Asian background coupled with being LGBT myself, it’s important to ensure you always can be your authentic self. A safe workplace is very important and unconscious bias will exist. Whether you choose to disclose specifics of yourself where others may not be aware is a personal matter, but one where you should ensure you have the support network around you. Most organisations I have worked in have formal groups that you can join where you will get formal and informal advice – but at the end of the day educating people is important. Educating people who may not realise they have a bias, or may not have experienced what you have, helps to create that safe workplace environment. Without education, change cannot take place.

How do you stay motivated and engaged in your work, even during difficult or stressful times? Could you describe your approach to maintaining a healthy work-life balance?

In the formative years of my career, I was 24/7 round the clock focused on work. I would go on holiday but still respond to emails and take calls. At Standard Chartered, our ‘block leave’ policy means we are required to take two weeks leave back to back, and not access work systems or respond to external emails. I was at the time of my life where I embraced this for all the right reasons, but what I learned too was that was able to switch off and recharge. It was the best feeling ever. Returning to work after block leave and having a solid team also in place meant that everything was going fine, and any mini-fires were put out with very capable people. Now on any holiday, I switch off completely and it really helps.

Other than that, if I can’t take time off, I like to play chess and that really helps me get my mind off things. I also appreciate my family (parents and siblings) more than ever and like to spend quality time with them, be it going out for a meal, helping them with gardening or just enjoying a facetime call and a laugh.

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