Spot light on Richard Worrell, Head of EMEA Equity Trading , Janus Henderson Investors, EMEA
Head of Trading Champion 2020
I would like to again thank my peers for nominating me as a buyside champion. It was genuinely very humbling to be recognised by the community.
As importantly, I would like to thank Anita and Kristian Karppi for their support of the buyside and the industry over the years. This has been a truly challenging year but let’s keep supporting each other.
2020 has been a year of disruption – how has your desk coped with the pandemic? What key learnings can be made?
This has obviously been an unprecedented year but arguably you only really learn about the team and yourself in challenging times. To that end, I’m proud of how we handled such extreme volumes and volatility and continued to produce strong outcomes for our clients. I’m also proud that a number of the team still found time to grow professionally and to help others. Amongst other things, we’ve had team members take part in mentoring, work on Janus Henderson Investor’s charity foundation and embark on a Master’s degree in data science. (No prizes for guessing the last one is not me).
Which projects have you successfully worked on this year?
It has been yet another year where the “to do” list never seems to slow! We’re in the midst of an OMS upgrade, a huge undertaking, but also continue to work globally on a number of enhancements. We’ve tried to take a more active role with regulators and regulation generally, we’ve written thematic notes for clients, enhanced our Best Execution forum reports and we’ve worked on improving our client presentation packs amongst other things. At the same time, much of our job is long term project focused anyway. Whether it be enhancing the algo suite, scrutinising TCA or improving our broker review process, the projects never stop and rightly so.
How do you envisage the trading desk of the future post the pandemic?
This is a challenging question. I’m always slightly wary of predicting the future for fear of it to coming back to haunt me! I think it’s pretty clear that this year has accelerated changes and it is hard to see us reverting back to where we were. Maybe we’re all going to be sitting at home with virtual reality headsets on or maybe we’ll just be sitting at home pondering why we developed algos and robots in the first place. Or maybe we’ll be back sitting at our desks again sometimes with our fund managers again. In all some seriousness, one thing for sure is it’s pretty obvious we are becoming more and more data driven by the day. I was particularly interested in the recent news from BMLL, with whom the Plato Partnership worked on Platometrics, that they have five years of Level 3 data for the US markets. That shows the direction of travel and level of detail.
What are your top tips to inspiring traders about how to reach to the top of their profession?
I aspire to lead by example and, especially with my Investment Association role, I feel it’s important to be on the front foot and try to help the market overall. Whether that helps you get to the top or just gives you admin to do is open to debate though! One thing I did this year, after reading Ray Dalio’s Principles, was write down the Principles that I live by. That gave me an opportunity to really pause and reflect. I fear I may end up sounding like David Brent but my overarching principle is “Work Hard, Think harder” and prompts the constant desire to get better every single day.
What top tips do you use to optimise your mental health? #buysidementalhealth campaign 2020 by the Buy-side Trading Community (BTC)
I do think the work we did at the IA, in conjunction with AFME, in trying to reduce Market Hours was on the right track. One of the pillars of the case was mental health. I worry that we are all working long hours and under constant pressure to deliver short term results. It is perhaps fair to say that comes with the territory but I felt the balance had gone wrong. Maybe the pandemic and working from home has forced a reset of that to some extent. The new world feels slightly less rushed, not jumping from meeting to meeting, and the Zoom setup seems to optimise the time better. At the same time, I’m not sure sitting at home for days, weeks and months alone is good for mental health. I also seem to get more emails out of the traditional working hours. Maybe that’s down to people’s new personal work habits but I sense some are just sitting at a desk for longer than ever. As I touched on earlier, I think it’s about balance. I’m therefore still a supporter of the office environment as well as work from home. It’s very important for building and developing staff and teams, the company culture and our mental health. Going back to the Principles idea, in terms of mental health, you really need to focus on what is important to you and enjoy what you are doing.
What has been your career path before your current role?
My career path was, maybe, a little different. I came straight from college to work in the City, so no university degree at all. That was rare then and unheard of now. In some ways, it was extremely positive. I was very aware of how lucky I was to have a job in this industry. Therefore I made sure I worked as hard as I could every single day. It was also challenging because I felt a constant sense of imposter syndrome. Even now I feel like that! These experiences help define you. As you mature (another way of saying I am getting older), you realise that you should give back to those starting on their own career path. Mentoring is one way I have done this. We all need help, guidance and sometimes just a sounding board to vent! It’s been as helpful to me as it has been to the mentees. We never stop learning.