Sucorinvest Central Gani caters to 6,000 customers with president director Ratih D. Item at its helm. (ID Photo/Uthan A. Rachim)

Family, Career the Perfect Investments for Ratih D. Item, Sucorinvest's Chief Executive


APRIL 05, 2015

Sucorinvest Central Gani caters to 6,000 customers with president director Ratih D. Item at its helm. (ID Photo/Uthan A. Rachim)

Jakarta. It’s natural that anyone would want to entrust their assets with the most reliable manager they can find.

Among the best managers in the financial industry in Indonesia today, one name stands out. Ratih D. Item, president director of Sucorinvest Central Gani, pays attention to every little detail that makes investing feel like a trip to your mother’s house — welcoming, understanding and educational all at the same time.

As an equity broker and investment bank, Sucorinvest is a name to be reckoned with. With Ratih at its helm, the company serves 6,000 customers with Rp 3.7 trillion ($ 286.16 million) in funds as of December 2014.

“Women are more attentive to little details, that’s what makes us good in the financial industry,” said Ratih, adding that her daughters had also dived into the business.

The mother of four looked sharp, wearing a white lace shirt and a blazer on top of an elegant pencil skirt. A pearl necklace and brooch completed her appearance.

“I started everything too early,” she said to start the conversation. “I married at the age of 23.”

But being a wife and a mother at a young age did not necessarily mean that Ratih hung up her ambitions. She appears to be the kind of person determined to carry on and enjoy every step of her life.

Currently she holds one of the industry’s highest positions after 38 years in the financial industry and blends all the glitz and glamor with a family of two daughters, two sons and a granddaughter.

She graduated from the University of Airlangga law school in Surabaya in 1981 and went to work as a front-liner in the banking industry. Although she was formally trained to analyze legal documents, Ratih did not serve in an operational unit of a bank and instead was mandated to face customers and look after their needs.

“The term is relationship manager, [I was] always facing the customers,” she summed up.

Interacting with others proved to be a constant source of enjoyment for her, and she never once looked back on her initial aspiration to follow in her father’s footsteps in law.

“It’s a long story, I entered law school because I wanted to be a judge. I looked at my dad, who looked so gallant [wearing his robe in court],” she recalled.

“But then my professor got shot in court by a rival.”

The tragedy made Ratih lose her appetite to sit on the judge’s bench and instead she chose to sign up with Bank Niaga’s training program in 1982 — before the lender became a member of what was then the Jakarta Stock Exchange.

The big leagues

After working at Niaga for five and a half years Ratih decided to move to a foreign company, Standard Chartered Bank.

Looking back on that career move and at what she has achieved since then, she is sure she made the right decision.

“Standard Chartered Bank sent me to several schools. I took certification in the United Kingdom, United States and France,” she said.

Sucorinvest’s website adds that Ratih holds a certificate in international trade assessment from Manchester University in Britain.

She is also certified in credit skills assessment from Omega in the United States and participated in the intensive international executive program at Insead Business School in France.

After 12 years of working and training in banks, Ratih then moved to Sucorinvest Central Gani, an equity brokerage firm based in Surabaya.

Looking back at her career, Ratih added that it was an unusual move at the time.

“I have worked in Sucorinvest for 26 years, since 1989. At the time, there were hardly any securities companies in Indonesia,” she said.

The company became a member of the Surabaya Stock Exchange in 1989.

To harvest the demands of customers in Jakarta, Sucorinvest moved to the capital the following year.

“Indonesia is one of the world’s most popular destinations for investment as seen by its politics, growth and affordability,” she stated. “In 2025, Indonesia will be one of the seven biggest economies in the world. Indonesia’s population in 2025 will be much bigger.

“We’ll have the advantage of a demographic bonus,” she said.

Most of Ratih’s investors are foreigners.  Many wealthy Indonesians, she said, have not been exposed to the capital markets, and equity brokerage firms still need to identify and indeed create new markets to tap into.

“That’s why we are actively giving educational sessions in universities and high schools,” she said. “We have galleries, we opened offices in universities such as Merdeka University [in Malang, East Java], universities in Kediri [East Java], Yogyakarta, and Jakarta.”

Educating academics — including students, employees, lecturers and even professors — is an effective way to broaden public exposure to the capital market and to sell Sucorinvest’s mutual fund products, she noted.

“When a university calls us to open an account, they can open up to 1,000 accounts [at a single time],” she said.

This kind of progress, she said, encouraged the company to set a target of serving one million customers by 2020.

The company hopes to attract 100,000 customers this year alone.

Down time in the Alps

The busy life of the financial industry doesn’t absorb all of Ratih’s energy. She still has time to enjoy herself and her family.

“I really love to eat and travel. I love to see people, to chat. I’ve traveled to many big cities in the world but I haven’t seen the small towns. I want to explore every corner of Indonesia first. There are many gorgeous spots in Indonesia,” she said.

One of her most beautiful memories is the Alps. To Ratih, the Alps are an example of how nature can be wild, beautiful and breathtaking at the same time.

And, she emphasized, anyone can enjoy a great life if they manage their career and assets properly.

Ratih, who has started investing in property, believes people should invest in a way that suits their needs.

“Try mutual funds first. I often suggest people to invest, especially from a young age,” she said.

The article was first published in GlobeAsia’s April 2015 edition