Amy Small is executive director of Institutional Custody and Institutional Banking Operations at UMB Bank. Since joining UMB in 2018, she has been hard at work leading the growth of UMB’s custody services. In the following Q&A, Amy opens up about her career, vision for her team, and how she spends time outside of the office.
Q: How did your background lead you to the UMB Institutional Custody team?
One word that will likely resonate when combing through my career history is “growth.” I started at DST Systems in 2000, and in my 18 years there, I grew from an entry-level representative to the director of operations, spanning various areas including client relationship management, finance, regulatory and financial control—while working with the team to build their alternative investment book of business from scratch. I then became DST Pharmacy Solutions’ director of pharmacy funding and disbursements before joining UMB.
Along the way, I became very familiar with UMB. In fact, I have been a client of UMB both personally and professionally for over 20 years. As a client of UMB’s, I always received outstanding service and loved the people I worked with. I thought that maybe I had just lucked out by having top-notch client relationship managers. Upon joining UMB, I’ve learned it’s really the company-wide culture.
Q: How have you seen the industry evolve during your career, and what are some of the challenges for the future?
Like many other industries, technology has transformed everything in institutional custody. Today, if something isn’t digital, it’s at a large disadvantage, and in some cases, may even be useless. Not only does technology help make things easier for us, but smaller teams are now able to manage far greater volumes.
Securities regulations introduce large changes, too. One recent example is faster settlement times for securities transactions. European markets, for example, now charge penalties for failed trades that can’t be resolved within a brief window of time. Here in the U.S., we’re moving toward a T+1 settlement model, which means trades will settle just one day after the trade date of transaction. These changes require asset managers and their custodians to ensure everything is lined up just right, all the time.
Distributed-ledger technology—such as Blockchain and digital assets—is also bringing new challenges, as they introduce real-time trading, clearing and settlement. Today, each of these processes are provided by separate service providers.
Also, as interest rates fluctuate or level off through economic cycles, a persistent challenge is how to be in tune with our clients’ wants and needs, and make sure their goals are met.
Finally, the change in how and where work gets done is now a global discussion. What a workday looked like when I started my career more than 20 years ago is much different than a typical workday now. Flexibility has become currency when recruiting top talent.
Q: What are the pillars of success for your team?
I’ve witnessed technology completely transform the industry, so I want to ensure my teams are equipped with the technology solutions that meet our needs both internally and for clients. The best way for our team to succeed is through continuous innovation, which includes not only technology, but also an environment that embraces change and evolution.
While technology is a baseline requirement, our team is successful because we are dedicated to providing the best service for our clients and we have a reputation in the market for doing so. As we enhance our tech offerings, we simply cannot lose our focus on the client experience.
As someone who is very family-oriented, I know success also comes from fostering a healthy work-life balance. Even before the pandemic launched a spotlight on flexible and hybrid schedules, I have always strived to make that possible for my team. As a wife, mother, daughter, and a professional, I have listened to advice given to me through the years regarding how the years go with your children. My main goal is to be present in the big events and in the everyday moments with my family.
My family keeps me busy with band events, choir concerts, volleyball games, and golf tournaments and I work hard to ensure they can see my face in the crowd. I also want my UMB team to feel supported in living their priorities to the fullest, whether that is attending events for their children, education, volunteering, career advancement, or whatever they choose.
Q: What are some of your favorite things to do outside of the office?
I love spending time with my family. I married my high school sweetheart and we have two children; our son is a freshman in college, and our daughter is a sophomore in high school. We enjoy traveling every chance we get which is getting more difficult now as I juggle the kids’ busy schedules as well.
I also enjoy giving back to the community, which includes leading the music team at my church where I play the keyboard and sing. My husband and I actively work with groups focused on keeping families together. I have provided mentorship to students and professionals in underserved areas and helped them build and execute goals to be successful.
Also, with UMB, I’m provided the opportunity to take time off for volunteer work that is meaningful to me. I have participated in a program to mentor veterans through UMB’s partnership with American Corporate Partners, which has impacted me significantly. Many of my family members served in the military across several generations, so being able to mentor and assist veterans as they transition to civilian life is important to me.
I always look for ways to stay involved and believe that makes me better in all aspects of my life.
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