Our series "Meet the team" continues with George Whittle, one of the up and coming dealers in the Melbourne office
George grew up in Brisbane before moving to Melbourne in early 2010. Originally studying Science at the University of Queensland, he transferred to Commerce at the University of Melbourne which has proved a great move for George and for FIIG.
Below, George tells us how he ended up in a sought after position as a bond dealer with Australia’s leading fixed-income broker, the best tip he has received from a client, and his top bond pick.
What attracted you to bond broking?
I started with FIIG two years ago working part-time while I was still studying. I was here two days a week working on the DirectBonds approvals process as well as bits and bobs with Residential Mortgage Backed Securities (RMBS) and looking at things like FIIG’s liquidity versus the listed market.
I was lucky to be offered a full time position doing much the same work with additional responsibilities. I got a call pretty soon after from David Moore who asked if I would like to try my hand at bond dealing.
This is a really interesting space to be in. It’s growing and bonds are not something that a lot of people have in their portfolio or are familiar with. That has got me really engaged and the fixed income market is somewhere that I want to stay going forward.
A lot of university finance is about asset allocation and portfolio optimisation – the difference between best practice and ordinary investors is fairly amazing. Diversifying into fixed income makes sense and if you’re self-directed then direct ownership is the logical pathway.
What is your favourite part of the job?
I like looking at relative value and trying to judge how different securities are going to perform. The most rewarding part is definitely dealing with different people from different walks of life which wasn’t really something I had ever done before. Sitting down and talking to someone about what their goals are and working with that within the general advice framework to put something together that is going to perform is very satisfying.
Highlight of your time with FIIG?
I like the primary issue side of things. The first primary issue that I was on board for was the G8 Education fixed rate bond that was a really interesting experience. The FIIG Melbourne office is always a high intensity environment but primary issues really step it up a notch. The clients who have participated in those deals have had really good results so that’s probably the highlight.
Top bond pick?
Newcrest Finance has a 2022 fixed rate issue denominated in US dollars. Where a client has an existing currency view, this is a secure and liquid way to put that in place and further diversify their fixed income position. Newcrest has an impressive set of assets which bondholders can be very comfortable with.
The minimum parcels of USD 10,000 make these bonds really accessible and they are currently yielding 4.55% which would be compounded by a decline in the AUD.
Top piece of advice for clients?
Think carefully about what is appropriate for you in terms of asset allocation. Australians have historically been heavily allocated to direct property and equity and while this works for someone in their mid-twenties (!) it makes sense to move to lower risk, lower volatility assets over time.
Best piece of advice you ever heard from a client?
A client told me to start reading a column on Bloomberg View by a guy called Matt Levine. You don’t need to subscribe, it’s available on the website.
Levine used to be a lawyer, banker and a Latin teacher and a lot of what he writes has ended up informing my view of financial markets. Conveniently, it also lines up pretty closely with my sense of humour.
George Whittle can be contacted in the Melbourne office on 03 8668 8834