TradeTech FX USA is back this February, taking place LIVE and in-person at the exclusive Eden Roc Resort in Miami. As the largest FX conference dedicated to the buy side, this will be the FX industry’s first opportunity since the pandemic began to network and learn from North America’s leading buy side Heads of FX Trading and Portfolio Management, face-to-face, under one roof.
As the official magazine partner of TradeTech FX, e-Forex has been given exclusive access to interview the conference organiser Irene Cerquaglia and one of the buy side speakers, Tomo Tokuyama, Head of Trading at First Quadrant.
IC: What are you most looking forward to and what makes TradeTech FX a must-attend event?
“I’m really excited for the 2022 edition of TradeTech FX USA. I recall being at the Eden Roc in Miami in February 2020 enjoying conversations with delegates in sunny warm weather to then come back to a very different world a week later. I’m most looking forward to catching up with many familiar faces in person again as this will be the first opportunity to in two years and I’m sure we will have lots to discuss!
After spending many weeks researching with our Advisory Board and buy side community, we are excited to bring you an agenda that address your biggest priorities and provides practical insights to help future-proof your FX desk. We can’t wait for you to experience the buzzing exhibition hall once again where you can socialise with your industry peers over coffee, lunch and drinks and evaluate the latest FX solutions.
Our main goal for this conference is to create a fun and stimulating environment for the full FX ecosystem to re-connect with friends and forge new partnerships and I look forward to connecting with our FX community again very soon!”
TT: What is the biggest opportunity for the buy side at TradeTech FX?
The biggest opportunity I see for the buy side is to re-examine their trading desks. Presumably most, if not all trading desks have had to work from home at some point during the pandemic, so it makes sense to reflect on what worked, what didn’t, and if trading is a function that would benefit from a hybrid work arrangement. For us, I see next year as an opportunity to identify our manual processes and explore if there are tech solutions that can solve those issues. I continue to believe that automated trading for much of the straightforward execution is the future and feel there will be opportunities in the upcoming year to take one step further to achieving that. Whether it be more auto execution, peer-to-peer matching for our large swaps, or even a greater increase in algo execution. The lens to which I will examine our processes will be simple – Why are we manually doing this? And is there not a tech solution to solve this?
TT; Tell us about your involvement with TradeTech FX and what are you most looking forward to?
I’m once again part of the advisory board and hope that my input will result in new and engaging topics. I always look to accomplish the same goals during the conference:
- Meet new and interesting people that are part of the FX ecosystem that I would most likely never meet outside of the conference.
- Make sure to see the banks, brokers, and vendors that service us, continue to build relationships with them, and show my appreciation for their hard work.
- Learn something new or discover new technology that could help our firm in the future.
- Catch up with my peers and other Heads of Trading to discuss as well as compare differences and best practices.
TT: What has been yours or your company’s most impressive achievement this year and why?
Our firms most impressive achievement has definitely been the seamless ability to transition from in office work to at home work. First Quadrant was well ahead of the curve especially in trading as we have always had the ability to work from home given we trade 24hrs. Therefore, all of the trading team for years now has had the exact same set up at home as they do in the office. The trading team VPN is directly connected into their work machine and does not have any programs on their local machine. This way the firm can still monitor everything we do. The firm also took a sensible approach to office closures; the office technically was never closed so those who needed to access it had the ability to do so. There was, and still is no official mandate to return to office, although many vaccinated employees do go in. I feel the seamless transition was a great achievement for our firm and allowed us to maintain business as usual during the pandemic. It also allowed the firm to gauge how to move forward post Covid, as hybrid work schedules have showed increases in productivity as well as decreased travel risk, as it has eliminated the long and unpredictable Los Angeles commute.
TT: How has COVID-19 changed your role and the demands on you and your team?
The COVID 19 pandemic hasn’t necessarily changed my role or my team’s role, however, it has validated what we already knew to be true which is that we could function predominately from home without skipping a beat. Again, we have always had the ability to trade from home, but we never felt that disconnected given we all made an effort to be in the office at the same time. Admittedly, prior to the pandemic I was a big proponent to being in the office and having as much face time as possible. I felt that it built camaraderie within the team but also felt it was important for our team to be visible to the rest of the firm. I still believe that nothing replaces face to face when trying to grow and build relationships, however, it has become clear to me that the actual trading function itself can be done at home without issues. The challenge has been, how can we replicate the team building aspect, and how can we still add value to the firm. The answer has been more effort towards communication, and more effort towards meeting outside the office. I don’t think it’s a secret to say that many of the conversations we have in the office with our peers are not 100% work related, and that’s how relationships get built as we learn more about our colleagues and their lives. I have made a conscious effort to improve communication within our team. We use Zoom, slack, text, and often have group calls just to hear each other’s voices and catch up on both work and personal things. We also coordinate to try and be in office at the same time when we do go in. Furthermore, we make an effort to do team lunches either in office or outside the office. I feel this is vital for the future as less and less face-to-face interaction will result in less meaningful relationships. If we simply just do our jobs with limited communication, we all become nameless pawns that have no added value, which will lead to people becoming easily replaceable with another nameless pawn.