You’ve put in a request with your dealer to buy or sell a bond – but how are those requests carried out? Here we interview Jessica Rusit, who trades AUD bonds and is part of our busy facilitation team
Jess, can you tell us a bit about yourself?
I’m one of four team members of the tight knit Facilitation team, and am the only one based in Sydney. I started with FIIG up in Brisbane and relocated to the big smoke three years ago.
In a sentence, how would you describe your role?
It’s a fast paced, dynamic role where you need to juggle and have organisational skills like no other!
Can you please shed some light on what you and your team do?
I’ll try. We’re solely responsible for executing trades, all client orders come through my team and it’s our job to find buyers when we have sellers and sellers when we have buyers.
A bond on the DirectBond list can be traded in parcel sizes as small as $10,000 for our clients, but our team will trade with external counterparties and that’s in $500,000 institutional sized parcels. It’s a matter of communicating with dealers and keeping them abreast of trade flows, prices, switch ideas, and above all team work.
What do you mean by “find buyers when we have sellers and sellers when we have buyers”?
So the clients will talk to their dealers, which then is put into a trading platform custom built for us internally and we just monitor that all day long. Some requests can be executed straight away, for example we might already have buyers lined up if someone is selling a bond. Sometimes it might be an issue with price, sometimes it can be supply – where an order will come through for a bond but we don’t have any stock.
It sounds tricky?
We have to contend with the fact that we make bonds available from $10,000 so they’re more accessible, but on the street, where at times we have to source to get supply, the bonds might trade in minimum $500,000 parcels. We may have some buyers (bids) and sellers (offers) of smaller size parcels, but to meet that $500,000 minimum we have to collate all of those smaller bids and offers in order to fill the trade.
At the end of the day, my role – and the main role of facilitation – is to balance that demand with supply.
And when the demand is greater than the supply, it would create a backlog right? Clients might have to wait for their orders to be filled?
Yes. So at the moment NEXTDC’s 2021 bond, has $3.1m of “bids” on backlog – that is clients who want to purchase the bond. And we can’t get any supply.
How many trade requests do you see, on average?
We see too many to estimate, but on average we’d have about 300 actual executed trades a day to put it in perspective. I am responsible for the trades in Australian dollar denominated bonds, kangaroo bonds – anything in Australian dollars whether it’s issued here or overseas.
300 average trades a day sounds like a lot; what is that in turnover?
It’s hard to estimate. But to give some perspective, yesterday was a pretty stock standard day for us and the turnover – which is how much is bought and sold from clients – after around 350 executed trades was $33 million.
What currency does the facilitation team trade the most of?
I think there are more trades that come through in Aussie dollars, but the number of USD bonds in client’s portfolios is growing. Sometimes we do a bit in GBP. The two major currencies we see are definitely AUD and USD.
Are you looking to expand to other currencies?
We have looked at other currencies like New Zealand dollars, but rather than currency, we search for bonds with a compelling story to add to our list. I think that generally drives what currencies we see. The US market is the largest, providing the most depth so it seems likely USD will still be the main foreign currency market we deal in, in future.
How do you keep on top of it all?
Being organised, anticipate what the day will bring and get ahead of it, and lots of post it notes.
I understand you’ve been making some media appearances. Can you tell us a bit more?
I’ve been lucky enough to appear on Sky Business for FIIG’s daily afternoon cross. My first crosses were only good enough to show my mum, and hopefully Sky Business didn’t lose any viewers!
What do you normally discuss on the segments?
Lately I’ve been talking about more of the macro stories with the Fed raising rates, where the RBA is with rate hikes, and inflation. All factors that can impact yields and how we price the bonds.
What is an average day at work for you like?
Facilitation team days are pretty planned out – we can look at our clock and know exactly what we should be doing at that time.
My day usually starts with looking at what’s happened overnight for both trades and just in the general economy on Bloomberg terminals. Around 9am we begin pricing, where we look at what yields have done overnight and adjusting internal pricing accordingly. Once our pricing is updated our dealers can then start talking to clients; from then on we start filling trade requests.
From 3pm to 5:30pm is when we’re really busy, as by this point we have the full understanding of what we need to fill to execute the requests accordingly.
What’s the worst day you’ve seen on the desk?
It’s hard to pinpoint but generally when we’ve stuffed something up and had to fix it. My role is kind of like, where if nothing goes wrong no one bats an eyelid, but if something goes wrong it affects a lot of people. And in true fashion, they’re never easy fixes either.
Actually, something does come to mind that happened while I was working in funds management during the GFC.
I went in to work – and I was the only one in the office since there were so many redundancies. My first phone call of the day, a financial advisor told me that one of the longest running funds in Australia – the Howard Mortgage Fund – had closed.
So I’m reading the newspaper and trying to get a response for him, since there had been no internal communication – and then typically while this was going on the fire alarm went off. It was just the worst timing.
What attracted you to FIIG and the world of fixed income?
I had previously worked for Challenger when no one had heard of the company, but now it’s huge. I saw an opportunity at FIIG to be part of that journey again, and grow as the company grows.
Thinking outside the (work) box now – what’s your ideal weekend?
It would be remiss of me to not say spending time with my fiancée, probably when he surprises me with a weekend away somewhere (which he doesn’t do all that often but hopefully after reading this he will). Lately we’ve been busy planning our wedding.
What’s your favourite movie and book at the moment?
I don’t get to the movies often, but the last one I saw and enjoyed was a documentary called ‘Dior and I’. It was as much about talent, persistence and hard work as it was about dresses. I really enjoyed reading ‘The Big Short’ by Michael Lewis, and recommend it to anyone who hasn’t read it already. It is the most entertaining way to learn about the GFC.
Last but not least – how do you define success?
Success is not having to explain what you’ve done or who you are… Others do it for you.
Jessica is based in the Sydney office. Her latest Sky Business clip is below.