Head of Trading: EMEA Equities
and Henley Fixed Interest at Invesco
Which will be the key areas of focus for your trading desk in 2022?
Trading analytics is a priority for both traders and our trading research team as market structure reacts to the constantly changing regulation and opportunities that innovation provides. There is both a core operational aspect to building effective data capture which can be applied globally and then local variations to the configuration of insights and future trading decisions. Workflow enhancements will also be in focus as we advance our strategic goals via our global front office architecture review which will continue to advance through ’22; and finally this operational simplification will enable further regional optimisation of order routing to our execution centres of excellence: an obvious target but not without challenges!
Which is the biggest market structure issue in your opinion?
A European CT – finally mandated by the regulators - will be the biggest influencer of market practice in the coming years and in ways I am certain have not been fully anticipated at this stage. This is simply the starting pistol (after a 7 years plus practice session!) and it will be a long run before we have an efficient pre- and post trade tape that delivers the transparency and surveillance capabilities that we have long sought. The journey to build that across equities, bonds, derivatives and ETFs is bound to have several cross asset twists and turns along the way and it will be fascinating to see how that develops and the impacts it has.
Which focus area would you like to see progressed by the end of 2022?
One is practical: the automation of IPOs/ECM processes; and one is conceptual: finding a way to measure and improve the adoption of sustainability criteria in trading. IPOs and a lot of ECM workflows remain manual and opaque, anomalies which add even more risk when you think that these are often the largest orders we manage. The industry is starting to see some green shoots of viable solutions in both equities and fixed income so I’d love to see those initiatives gain traction in 2022. The same can be said for ESG: trading needs to identify the impact its collective footprint has on the environment (power consumption for example) and take ownership of trying to reduce it. The initial instinct may be that there’s little relevance for trading but thanks to some enlightened professionals we are starting to see the opportunities and I think this will become a major shifter of working practices in time – hopefully with meaningful progress in the next 12 months.
How has your firm adapted to working post lockdown?
Like many we very quickly enabled full flexibility around working arrangements following the lockdown with the majority of employees returning to the office for part of the week from the Summer. A framework for ‘new normal’ working has been designed to optimise the balance between WFH and being in the office which is tailored by teams and roles – and in response to continuous consultations – but unfortunately the recent Government restrictions mean we haven’t yet moved our UK offices to that status. Another aspiration for ’22!
Thoughts about attracting the next generation of talent into trading?
The upside of the lockdown has been that some of the more traditional and rigid elements of our working routines have been disbanded (for good?) far more quickly then we could have imagined and that should make the profession more appealing to the next generation. What I think is a tougher challenge is giving them enough opportunities: in my experience there is still greater demand (from a pool of growing talent) than supply when it comes to roles in trading teams. I am very optimistic about the current status and prospects for our industry but it remains one prone to consolidation across many components. Where I see this talent being employed more going forward is in data engineering to guide trading decisions. The extent to which this is hard coded or simply accessed as signals will determine the future operating model of trading desks – and should be governed by the success of its outcomes for clients. Regardless this for me represents the generational evolution of our workforce.
Top positive tips for your peers and colleagues in trading? Power of #buysidepositivity
Well firstly I have always thought myself to be incredibly fortunate to have had a career in such a great profession and despite a significant amount of change and turbulence over the last 28 years, I still have that view. Coming out of the lockdown and being able to meet up with colleagues and peers again was the most uplifting and reaffirming experience which reminded me what a gregarious bunch traders are! And by that I don’t mean you have to be extrovert – the power of networking for me is in being exposed to different people and working dynamics from which there is always more you can learn because financial markets are constantly evolving. So be (and stay)curious would be one tip. The other is realise that you are empowered – with collaboration central to making a difference. Recent regulatory consultations reflect the importance of that – and it will provide great opportunity.