In at the deep end
If crises are career-shaping events, 2020 provided young traders with a lifetime’s experience in just a few months. Sarah Valente is newer to the business than many of her veteran colleagues. She shares a view on learning to swim in rough waters.
VALENTE It has been a unique and exciting year. I think the team has navigated the challenges exceptionally well and I feel very fortunate to have joined the bond-trading team at a time when government and semi-government bonds are at the forefront of conversation, with market moves similar in many ways to those of the financial crisis.
I’m glad to have had the chance to witness and be a part of history in the form of the AOFM [Australian Office of Financial Management]’s unprecedented borrowing programme and the RBA [Reserve Bank of Australia]’s first QE programme.
These circumstances have helped me quickly learn the nuances of managing a bond book and have allowed me to be involved in team conversations about topics I never thought we would be discussing – like negative rates and the impact of economic shutdown.
I certainly wasn’t prepared to work under the circumstances that COVID-19 forced us into. But it was key to our success that the team was able to be flexible, adapt quickly and understand each others’ circumstances. Working from home for a period was challenging. But ANZ supported the team with all the necessary tools to keep working seamlessly.
I have learned how important it is to maintain clear communication with the team, remain disciplined and be a team player. I have gained a better understanding of risk and have been able to see first-hand the impact of new information on the market when liquidity has been challenged.
These circumstances have helped me quickly learn the nuances of managing a bond book and have allowed me to be involved in team conversations about topics I never thought we would be discussing – like negative rates and the impact of economic shutdown on the market and the bank.
The unusual conditions have also given me an opportunity to trade independently and build confidence in making risk decisions of my own, having experienced a major markets crisis. It has been the ultimate learning experience for a trader starting their career and given me a lot to draw on when markets next encounter such volatility.
VALENTE It was challenging, especially at the start, to play a role and support the team in a way that seemed valuable. But the systems we were provided and the capabilities that enabled us to communicate meant that, at all times of day, I was involved in trading decisions and was able to discuss them with the senior traders either on the phone or online.
I think we adapted well – and very quickly – to the circumstances. But it’s great to be back in the office and with everyone now we’re out of the crisis scenario.