The business challenge

Matt Ferrari didn’t know what to expect from a banking career when he left school. But 12 years on, after working his way up, he’s discovering it holds plenty of opportunities for someone prepared to learn all they can.

“I’ve pretty much always been in client facing roles” says the Commonwealth Bank foreign exchange dealer. “I’m currently in the global markets area working with corporate customers and individuals on their exchange needs” he says. “Basically my role involves constant negotiation with clients on price, service or other issues”.

Matt says he’s always on the lookout for opportunities for professional development. “My career is evolving and developing because I’m prepared to try something new or get some expert advice”.

The AGSM Developing Effective Negotiation Skills program was recommended by Matt’s boss. “He knew one of the program facilitators and had a very high opinion of his skills and thought the program would be beneficial for me”.

“Let’s face it” says Matt, “negotiation skills matter in all aspects of our lives. So I was keen to attend the program”.

The AGSM experience

It was Matt’s first encounter with an AGSM program and he was very impressed with the format and delivery.

“The guys really know their stuff” he says. “They’ve got the hands-on experience and the academic background to back it up. Both facilitators are professional negotiators – so I was learning from the best in the business”.

“And the time frame is excellent” says Matt. “A two-day program is ideal and doesn’t cause too much drama back at the office”.

The case studies were Matt’s favourite part of the program. “They are real life examples and they really get you thinking about the questions to ask...the information you need and how to extract it.”

Participants have around ten minutes to prepare for each negotiation, which is then filmed and played back.

“It’s intense” he says. “You have to think on your feet and then watching yourself in a live negotiation is so valuable. It’s just something you would never get to experience.”

Matt admits he had a few cringe moments when viewing the recording and realising he could have cut a better deal. “You think you’re doing the best job, but then you see all the things you could have done better” he says with a laugh.

The impact

Matt now sees enhanced negotiation opportunities in every transaction. “You might think it’s hard to negotiate on a foreign exchange deal. But now I can see how to improve the trade process, by adding value to the trade for the client, or seeking something in return for the bank.”

“I’ve learned to come back with something as a trade-off to get a better deal for both parties” he says.

The ‘wish-list’ concept from the training has also resonated with Matt. “This is my list of things that might be important and hold value for the client, but won’t have a major cost to the business”.

Matt says it’s often easy to do things that clients love. “The bank has a huge research department – it’s a resource that I can use to add value for my clients. It might be as simple as giving them a call to alert them to a movement on the exchange markets. They like the higher level of service. It’s a win for them.”

Matt believes the program is applicable to a wide variety of industries and roles. “It’s especially suitable for client facing roles because we’re always negotiating!”

“I thought the program was brilliant and I would definitely recommend it” he says. “The case studies are excellent. And watching them afterwards, while receiving quality, constructive feedback is just such a great learning experience”.

Matt doesn’t know what the future holds in terms of his next steps at Comm Bank. But he says he would “definitely look to AGSM for further training when the need arises.”