As a full-time FX trader and a mother to 3 young children, Jenny tells us how she manages to keep a work life balance with the support of Schroders and reflects over the last 17 years of FX trading compared to the challenges faced in today’s markets.
How did you enter the world of dealing?
After graduating from Durham University, I started my career at ABN Amro working in the Portfolio Administration Team. Alongside producing the monthly Institutional client valuations, I also used to calculate the currency note performance fees. After a couple of years working in the admin team, a position came up internally working as a junior FX dealer. I applied for the role, alongside other internal employees, and was offered the position.
Did you find the trading environment challenging as a young woman who entered what was a male dominated world back in 2001 and how has the market evolved since then?
When I started trading in 2001,I was one of two women within the dealing team at ABN. Further progress still needs to be made as women remain a minority in this industry.
However, nowadays attitudes towards women have changed for the better in both business and society as a whole.
It is important to work for an employer, such as Schroders, which supports and promotes diversity and equality in the workplace.
What are the challenges you face as a buy side in the FX markets?
In what has become such a highly-regulated market, you need to ensure as a desk you have fair and achievable key performance indicators which are reported to clients and regulators, and that you are adhering to all of the new market regulations.
Every dealer needs to be aware of their internal compliance rules and desk protocol.
Equally, it is important to offer the best service to underlying clients. As a trader it is our role to source and provide the best prices for our clients. I believe that this is achieved through a blend of electronic and manual dealing. Ensuring you have the most robust trading platform and current pricing tools is key. This can be achieved by discussing with peers what works and which are the best e-tools, algos and offerings in the market.
FX has always been an ever-changing market and, especially at Schroders, we are aware that we want to have the best trading applications, price discovery tools and exposure to the best liquidity. It is important to stay abreast of the new offerings that come to market as they may potentially add value, as well as minimise cost and risk to execution.
Having traded multi assets/ commodities previously, is there a big difference between these and the FX markets and can you tell us what you like/don’t like when comparing the two?
I have predominantly traded and specialised in FX trading, and this has always been the market which interests me most.
To be able to give high-level service and interactive value-adding coverage to a Portfolio Manager trading an active product, I personally feel that the best approach is to have specialised dealers in each market asset class, who back up their colleagues, rather than all dealers covering all products at the same time.
Can you tell us a bit about your family? How do you manage to juggle being a mum of 3 and maintain a full-time career in buy-side trading?
Of course! I have 3 young children. My eldest son Frank is 6 years old, and goes to a lovely local comprehensive school, and my youngest two children Harry (3) and Iris (2) are both in a brilliant private nursery full time. They all really enjoy going to school and nursery, and I think making sure your children are happy, and in the right setting is very important. Being a mum is the best job, and when you work full time you really have to make the most of the weekends!
I am generally up and out of the house before the children wake up, and we have recently got an au pair from Spain, who drops the children to school / nursery and collects them in the evening. This has alleviated a lot of the stress of needing to rush out of work, and race home to collect the children in the evenings. The more stress free you can make your life, the more you can enjoy family time, and the less distracted you will be in your work.
For me it is really important to be able to come into work knowing that my children are safe and happy, so that I can focus and do the best job I can. Furthermore, working for a family-friendly employer like Schroders, enables me to have total reassurance that I would never be expected to miss an assembly, school play or nursery concert.
My managers have made it very apparent to me that family comes first at Schroders. Having this kind of support from your co-workers and management makes being a part of Schroders a really enjoyable experience.
I also think this drives you on to do the best job you can, as not all employers embrace values such as this, and I am genuinely grateful to work here.
Do you have any hobbies/interests and do you manage to get time to fulfil these?
I took up yoga when I was pregnant with Frank, and this has been a passion of mine ever since. It’s probably the only hour a week I get to myself when I can really unwind and try and clear my mind.
We also have a fantastic new gym in our new offices, so all of the team try and get off the desk for an hour a day, when we can, and make use of this facility.
Can you share some top tips in being a successful career woman?
It’s important to be passionate about what you do. I couldn’t imagine staying in a job, or an industry that didn’t interest me, so to be successful in any career you need to enjoy your job.
I have always challenged the way things are done, especially if the process seems inefficient. Never be afraid to question why an operational procedure is done in such a way – if you have other suggestions of how you think it could be enhanced or improved, then speak up.
I have always had the pleasure of working with some exceptionally intelligent and brilliant people, and Schroders is no exception to this. Learn as much as you can from your peers, and make use of all the resources at your fingertips. Take courses and make yourself the very best you can be.
My last tip is to never underestimate anyone, or think yourself or your role superior to other people or parts of the business. Every employee has a part to play within the successful organisation of a company. For me, having worked in both the back and front office, I understand the complete front-to-back cycle of a trade. You need the brilliance of a PM to come up with the right trade, the skill of a trader to execute the deal at the best price without causing disruption to the market and the efficiency and care of the middle office to instruct and make the cash payments. All parts of this cycle and the people who undertake each job are important and add value.
Praise colleagues and tell people when your peers have done a good job as all too often the recognition of people’s efforts can be missed, and hard work deserves to be rewarded.
What do you think the 3 main qualities are for being a successful buy-side trader?
Understanding your market.
Having good trust-based relationships with your sales / bank contacts.
Having a strong and efficient platform for dealing.
Read the article in The Buy-side Perspectives: https://joom.ag/NN6a/p16