Spot light on Eric Heleine, Head of trading desk & overlay management at Groupama Asset Management
Head of Trading Champion 2020
2020 has been a year of disruption – how has your desk coped with the pandemic? What key learnings can be made?
Financial Markets have been quite resilient. Beyond of turnover increase, the widening of bid/offer spread, the spike of volatility has impacted the implicit cost, the role of the trading desk has been crucial to educate, advise PM’s to navigate in the new landscape. Helping them in term of investment implementation, market timing etc …
On all asset classes, the team has provided a lot of analytics and explanations on daily basis to highlight liquidity issue or opportunities but also feed the risk management for example. As head of trading, I spent a lot of time with our sales force to communicate and explain market condition at our institutional client.
Regarding the Covid-19 crisis, connectivity is a positive take away. Having a trading desk up and running during this pandemic crisis was crucial for an investment company. Prioritising employee safety and welfare and maintain control & resilience of business operation in the same time is good outcome but it was not enough a positive mindset and cooperation was also key to support additional stress arising by WFH and the difficulties to interact with the rest of the company or the sell side.
Internal or external relationships may be the part where we were the least prepared. During the first weeks of the lockdown, we have tried to be agile to maintain formal and informal virtual interactions requested by trading activities (BB chat, Zoom, Phone call...) It was still imperfect and can cause frustration on both sides. Another point where we need to have learn is how to support and help junior traders when they must manage in the same time the market stress + additional stress provided by an irrelevant workstation ergonomics at home and less supervision or support provide by senior trader or management. It’s a new challenge that we need take into consideration because the impact could be important for the company but also for those juniors.
Which projects have you successfully worked on this year?
I firmly believe that the role of the trading desk is to become a solution and technology integrator in the next few year. Being an expert of trading practice will be not enough if your trading front end don’t have the capacities to navigate into a new digital polymorphic market structure. Inter-operability and connectivity are key to success. In consequence We need to share internally & externally with our IT partner those problematics to be sure that we are doing the right technology welfare choices.
How do you envisage the trading desk of the future post the pandemic?
The key of success in our industry is to be curious, flexible, future-oriented, positive, open to new ideas because curiosity is a component of the thirst for learning. The other important tips is the capacities to rally people around a mobilizing project. It’s very important that our team must be fully involved and source of proposals after that you are disclosing the global picture expected. Confidence and support are key to expand skill of your teams and success collectively.
What are your top tips to inspiring traders about how to reach to the top of their profession?
I started my career like portfolio manager in the wealth management (DB group) before to move to bank prop trading activities. After 5 years of experience in the financial market I joined Etoile Gestion AM (SG group) as head of trading. In 2009, I joined Groupama AM to participate in the creation of the trading desk as the deputy head of trading. Two years ago, I took on the responsibilities as the head of trading.
What top tips do you use to optimise your mental health? #buysidementalhealth campaign 2020 by the Buy-side Trading Community (BTC)?
Sport and family are the two ways for me to balance between responsibilities and stress. Taking a step back is also important to keep motivation and chase negative thoughts. The weekend is the good moment to have professional digital break and focus your time on simple things.