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The Origin Story of Arifa Essop

In the ever-evolving landscape of financial services, individuals like Arifa Essop stand out for their passion and resilience. As a seasoned business development manager at INN8 Investment Platform, Arifa’s unwavering determination has been her second mate in navigating client relationships.

5 min read

Can you share a bit about your journey to INN8? How did you start, and what has been the most exciting part of your experience so far?

My journey with the organisation kicked off in 2001 when I was the front-line receptionist for Standard Bank Unit Trusts, in the era before STANLIB graced the financial scene. A year later, the merger between Liberty and Standard Bank’s asset management divisions occurred, whisking us away to the Melrose Arch offices. Fast forward 22 years, and it’s been a rollercoaster of a journey, meeting fantastic individuals who’ve played starring roles in shaping my thoughts and character. The relationships I’ve cultivated during this time are treasures I hold close to my heart.

Being a part of the INN8 expedition has been particularly riveting. The most exhilarating part? Collaborating with dedicated colleagues, all rallying behind a common goal – changing the way investments are done. We navigate this financial adventure within a robust, dynamic culture where collective effort and success are the secret sauces of our triumphs.

What does a typical day look like for you as a BDM for INN8 Investment Platform? Any interesting or challenging moments that stand out?

In the dynamic realm of a Business Development Manager’s life, routine takes a back seat – like a daily tightrope walk – just when you think you’ve got the rhythm, someone tosses in a surprise hula hoop! While meticulous planning is our forte, we’ve also become seasoned experts in navigating the twists and turns of the unexpected.

Starting my day with a cup of tea is non-negotiable – a trusted ally to corral my thoughts for what lies ahead. Tackling emails is akin to navigating a digital maze, and let’s face it, a mailbox with more than 50 emails is practically a workout for my anxiety. Hence, our clients can always rely on a same-day response; consider it my anxiety-management strategy.

Then comes the adviser appointments, interwoven with a bit of planning for the weeks ahead. But the real gems are those moments of collaboration with colleagues – brainstorming sessions so focused, they could rival a chef’s decision-making process on pizza toppings. The sales team camaraderie is our strength, making us a cohesive force in the business landscape.

What are the key skills or insights you’ve gained that have been crucial for success in business development at INN8?

The key to thriving in the unique world of business development at INN8 is adaptability – think more chameleon, less wizard without a wand. It’s about donning a hat of wisdom, embracing the chaos, and gracefully navigating the twists and turns. So, what’s the strategy? It’s not about having all the answers; that’s a surefire way to burnout. Instead, it’s a collaborative effort where everyone brings their unique insights, forming a cohesive masterpiece. Consider it a collective brain flex – asking questions isn’t a weakness, but a strength. We operate as a unified team, each bringing our distinctive skills to the table, it’s about gracefully manoeuvring through change, extracting lessons from chaos, and emerging as the unsung heroes of business development brilliance.

Could you share a project or client interaction that you found particularly rewarding or memorable? What made it stand out?

My most entertaining venture has to be the pilot migration project, where we bravely decided to test the waters by transferring investments from STANLIB to INN8. With two of our wealth managers on board, each handling a client, we meticulously planned every detail. Now, here’s where it gets interesting – one of our clients happened to be tying the knot during the same period. Talk about timing!

We had to momentarily interrupt the honeymoon vibes to get him to accept the terms and conditions. Thank goodness for our digital process! A quick 2-minute login from his phone, and he was back to sipping cocktails by the beach. And I must say, he took it like a champ! Lesson learned: always be ready for the unexpected. Oh, and just to show we’re not all business, we sent him a little wedding gift. Because, why not add a touch of joy to financial transactions and honeymoons, right?

Can you share a story about a client interaction that taught you something valuable or left a lasting impression?

I wouldn’t know where to start with all the tales I could share! For me, each interaction isn’t just a moment but a chance to make a difference. I consider myself a sort of superhero for our advisers, the true VIPs in my book. No challenge is too daunting; it’s as if I have a secret hotline dedicated to adviser queries. Need assistance? Consider it sorted. Make a promise? You can count on me to fulfil it.

My approach involves pushing boundaries, ensuring communication lines are wide open, and consistently delivering on my commitments. It’s akin to a marathon of trust-building and integrity, and you know what? Our advisers appreciate the effort. Going the extra mile isn’t merely a business strategy; it’s a significant workout for those customer service muscles!

What’s a challenge you’ve faced as a BDM, and how did you overcome it? Any lessons learned?

We won’t pretend that everything is always smooth sailing; life doesn’t unfold like a romantic comedy (unfortunately). Know this: when the unexpected occurs, we handle it with the precision of a detective in a crime novel. We won’t promise perfection, but rest assured, we’ll resolve it swiftly, faster than you can say “customer satisfaction.”

Why? Simple. We understand. We get you. Advisers have made commitments to their clients, and we’re committed to ensuring a minor hiccup doesn’t disrupt that. When things get complicated, guess who takes on the mantle of accountability? Yes, the BDM. Lesson learned? In this intricate relationship between BDMs, Advisers, and their clients, we play the role of relationship therapists, ensuring promises are upheld and everyone experiences a happily ever after.

In your time at INN8, how have you personally grown, either professionally or personally? Are there any experiences that have shaped you?

During my time at INN8, I’ve experienced significant growth, both professionally and personally. It’s been a continuous journey of self-improvement, and I’ve actively embraced the process.

Why? It all boils down to my commitment of continuous learning. I’m genuinely curious and approach every conversation with colleagues and advisers as an opportunity to collect insights. Consider me a sponge, absorbing knowledge along the way.

So, about my growth, it’s straightforward – one step at a time, propelled by curiosity, meaningful interactions, and a dedication to evolving into an enhanced version of myself. Think of it as an ongoing quest for self-improvement, with small doses of chocolate and a splash of tea. Here I am, evolving daily, and if personal and professional growth were a sport, I’d be aiming for gold. Because who wouldn’t want to be the MVP of their own development journey?

If you could go back and give advice to yourself when you started as a BDM at INN8, what would it be? What advice do you have for someone aspiring to join the INN8 family?

If I were to reflect on my journey as a BDM and share insights with my past self, it would be a straightforward conversation, always over a cup of tea: “Listen, younger me! To excel as a BDM, you’ll need resilience, adaptability, strong relationship-building skills, networking prowess, self-drive, and a hunger for continuous learning. Got it? Good!”

And for those aspiring to join the INN8 family, my advice would be: “It’s like entering a diverse, dynamic environment where everyone brings their unique strengths. Be authentic, discover your own approach, and own it confidently. Embrace the diversity, infuse a bit of your personality, and there you have it – you’ll become a standout BDM that even the office plants would appreciate!”