From a Consultant role at Arthur Andersen in 1995 to his present role as Deputy Global Head of Trading at Amundi, Gianluca gives us his honest view on his work and personal life, sharing his interests and thoughts on the importance of priorities to achieve the optimal work-life balance.
How has your role changed / evolved since the merger between Pioneer and Amundi?
“Until the integration with Amundi, I held the role of Global Head of Trading of Pioneer Investments, overseeing trading operations across all asset classes worldwide in Asia, U.S.A. and Europe (Dublin, London, Milan, Munich), reporting directly into the Global CIO. Today, I hold the role of Deputy Global Head of Trading of Amundi, reporting directly into the Global Head of Trading. In this position, I maintain direct responsibilities over Europe Ex-France (London, Dublin, Milan, Munich) and USA (Boston). It is a big responsibility in one of the largest trading organisations in the world and an acknowledgment of the great work and achievements that we, as a team, have achieved In Pioneer over the last ten years.
We are grateful to Amundi for such recognition and their confidence and trust. It is a tremendous opportunity and we look forward to the challenges that lie ahead of us.”
What were the biggest challenges (if any) you faced with the merger & since the merger?
“The integration between Pioneer and Amundi brought together two companies with an exciting story of development and created one of the top asset manager firms in the world in terms of AUM, with strong potential in both growth and productivity. From a more trading perspective, the integration brought together two very large organisations, very well known in the trading arena and with a long history of innovation and technological development. The day after the integration, the combined trading team counted 87 traders, spread out in 12 countries and 3 continents, working around the clock in six different time zones. In 2016, the two teams executed in excess of 2 million orders and the combined trading turnover of the two trading teams, globally, reached nearly €5 trillion, a number that is very close to the GDP of Germany and France put together. If you look at these numbers, it is easy to understand that the biggest challenge we had to face was to deal with such a complex organisation and build a global governance structure capable of ensuring that such volume of activity is carried out in line with all relevant laws and regulations in all jurisdictions and always in the best interest of our customers.”
How has your career progressed over the years, ie from where you started to your present role?
“I started my career back in 1995 in Turin (Italy) as a consultant, advising banks on how to use and price derivatives. This is when derivatives were nearly a mystery for most professional investors, at least in Italy. It was my consultancy job that brought me for a few months to the south of Italy to Banca del Salento, at the time one of the most active private banks in the trading arena. A year later, I became a futures and options trader in that bank. Since then, I held different trading roles, moving across different products and markets, trading equities, fixed income, credit derivatives, commodities, hedge funds and FX, so pretty much everything. In 1999, I moved to Ireland as Head of Trading, with the wider mandate to set-up a proprietary trading operation for the bank. That was my first managerial role. The company was very successful and in the following years, as we experienced significant growth both in assets and profitability, I took-up increasing responsibilities and roles, moving to the position of Chief Investment Officer first and then, in 2002, becoming Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director. In 2007, I finally moved to Pioneer, with the mandate of developing a global trading infrastructure.”
Have you always worked within trading and was this something you had always wanted to do?
“No. It is just the opposite. Financial markets, and trading in particular, was something that never really attracted my interest.
In school, I loved literature, poetry, arts and languages and after high school, I wanted to become a diplomat. I could speak many languages and I loved travelling around the world, so that seemed to me the dream job that could tick all the boxes.
Unfortunately, getting access to those roles is very difficult and eventually I did not make it, so I looked for an alternative career. When I look back now, I am so happy it went that way. Along my career, I had to face sides of my character that are not exactly in line with the role of a diplomat and I am lucky to have met so many amazing people and mentors over the years who have guided me throughout my career, to whom I am heartily grateful. I believe that there is always a reason, although unknown to us, why something happens. So, although this was not the career I had planned for me, I have no regrets.
I have loved this job since the first day I started and I still do it with the same passion.”
Having had exposure to Equities, Fixed Income and FX, are there any processes / cultural methodologies you prefer in one particular asset class that you would like to see adapted to other asset classes?
“After so many years in trading and having traded nearly all asset classes, I still consider myself a credit trader. The reality is that, besides extreme scenarios, the stock market can close up or down for a few days or weeks and it does not really matter all that much. The primary function of the equity market in fact is not to finance company operations, but rather to price their assets. Companies go public only once and typically to finance long-term projects or acquisitions. Credit markets are different. They are the source of liquidity to fund the economy. They are the vehicles through which capital can be efficiently allocated in a fair and transparent way to projects that are economically and socially useful to the benefit of the entire society. If credit markets do not work efficiently, the economy suffers. If credit markets crash, economies default. That is why I feel that trading fixed income, and credit in particular, requires a more comprehensive set of skills that go beyond technical knowledge. It requires the ability to process large quantities of data from diverse sources, sieve the relevant from the unworthy and then synthesize it in order to make sense.”
What is the greatest challenge you have had to overcome in your career so far?
“Financial markets are no different from any other business. They go through cycles, positive and negative. When things are good, it is always easy to manage people and spread positive messages. However, when things get tough, having to accept that this is a business that kicks you out the door in minutes is something difficult. The financial crisis in 2008 has been a massive challenge and lesson for me both as a man and as a manager, in the effort to minimise the impact on people.”
What are the top 3 qualities you feel are important in a buy-side trader?
“Integrity, discipline, humility.”
Do you have any hobbies or interests outside of work and do you get time to fulfil these interests?
“I write poetry. In 2015, I published my first collection of poems, titled Maschere, which was published by a small Italian editor.
Now I am working on a new bigger project, which is nearly ready. It is a new collection of poems which has already been approved by an important editor (which I cannot name at this stage) and that will be published in the next few months. I also love practising yoga and meditation.
Time? It is true that time is limited but often it is us that feeds this vicious circle of not having the time to do anything else than reading emails or talking on the phone, sometimes because being busy matches our stereotypical idea of being important and sometimes because we just fear to stop and be alone with ourselves. Carl Jung used to say that “who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes”. The reality is that life is a matter of priorities. You will always find the time for the things you love, if you really love them.”