Anne-Marie Hunter-Brown joined FIIG in February as our Markets Business Manager based in the Sydney office. She comes from a 14 year stint at Deutsche Bank. Most recently she was Business Manager for Credit Trading and Structured Finance within Global Markets.
Hi Anne Marie, can you tell us a bit about yourself?
I am Irish originally, but left Ireland to complete my Masters in California and from there moved to London to start graduate life in finance. My husband and I moved to Australia 11 years ago and we’ve never looked back. We now have three small Australian children and we’re very settled here.
I worked for Deutsche Bank for the last 14 years – it was my graduate role. I’ve always enjoyed helping people and my new role is very much about that, being the facilitator, coordinator and lynchpin to make things happen. I’m passionate about collaboration, getting it right for the client and the organisation, mentoring and coaching junior staff and corporate social responsibility.
What made you decide to join FIIG after working at Deutsche Bank for the past 14 years?
Having been at DB for 14 years starting as a graduate and returning from maternity leave after my third child, it was time to see what the outside world had to offer. I was looking specifically for something that was different to the trading floor of a large investment bank, so I was looking for a smaller company and one that was headquartered locally. FIIG met that on all fronts and also had the potential to serve a different client sector, so I’m very excited to be here.
Having previously dealt with risk management and operations for six years, what does it take to be a risk manager?
I was a market risk manager for three years just before the GFC and then I ran market risk operations for the Asia Pacific region for DB for three years. I think it takes a combination of looking at the worst case scenario balanced with attention to detail and the ability to multi-task. It’s a complex role with lots of moving parts, particularly post GFC with all the new regulatory requirements. It’s important to understand not only internal risk management practices but also global best practice.
Can you compare your experiences working overseas?
I started life in London as a graduate and I have to say, I was a little star struck by the big city - it’s probably THE financial capital of the world. It’s where things happen. It’s fast paced; it is long hours and it’s just that much bigger than anything I had ever experienced before. It’s also a little bit dirty! And in winter you go to work and come home in the dark, you never see the sunlight, which is not a good thing.
Sydney has a superior respect for work life balance, for health and fitness and happily, it is mostly sunny. I think there’s a calmer working environment and atmosphere in Sydney than in London. From a personal perspective, London is an amazing place to have lived and worked but I’m grateful to Australia for having adopted us.
Has there been a particularly memorable day in your career?
I would say there are two standout days. One would be the day of the London bombings in July 2005. I was based three buildings from Liverpool Street Station.
That day I got into work early and watched it unfold sitting on the floor. This was pre smartphones, so staff were calling saying “the tubes are down, tell me my new route to work!” We told them to catch the buses but then we got a call saying that a bus had exploded and we realised that this was actually an attack so we called everyone back to tell them to get off of the buses!
The building went into lockdown and we sat with the blast protection blinds down and we weren’t allowed out of the building. Underground routes were used to provide food until 6pm that evening when it was decided everyone could go home. There was no transport and no taxis, so everyone was walking everybody home. There was a real Londoners unite type of experience.
To sit there from a risk experience perspective, so early in my career watching the markets in meltdown and seeing how the traders and banks dealt with it, and how everything worked was a very valuable learning experience in staying calm under pressure.
The other really memorable day would be Brexit. I was in Singapore on the trading floor and the market genuinely believed in a “yes” outcome. I watched the market react to the first votes pointing to a “no” answer, then the realisation this would be the result. Watching the markets change rapidly, particularly the frantic pace of the foreign exchange markets and the credit markets was exhilarating. Sometimes there isn’t time to go to the bathroom! There’s a buzz in that situation that you really don’t get on normal days.
What’s an important lesson you’ve learnt working in the finance industry?
It’s important to be yourself. It’s important to bring your whole self to work and it’s important to understand your value system and live up to that every day. If something you’re doing doesn’t measure up with your values, then you should revisit what you’re doing.
Be yourself and remember you can’t be all things to all people. So if people walk away from you, hold your head high, trust your instincts and try again.
So do you have any advice for young female graduates wanting to get into finance?
One of my favourite quotations is “She believed she could so she did”. My other favourite is “Be yourself, everyone else is taken”.
As one of five daughters, I was raised in a resolutely female home to believe success is borne from hard work, determination and a little luck, and absolutely nothing to do with being male. In this world of finance, back yourself to succeed, be good at what you do and lean in.
For further inspiration, I highly recommend reading Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls - the stories of 100 remarkable women and their extraordinary lives. This is currently my three year old daughter's favourite book!
In another life, which alternative career path would you have chosen?
I’m a bit of a nerd (my thesis is in bio-mathematics) and while I was doing my Masters, I was also a teacher. I was teaching Maths and Physics and loved it; so in another life, I would probably be doing research in mathematics and teaching in a university.
Thinking outside of work, is there someone you would like meet?
I would love to meet Barack Obama. I would really like to get some insight into his EQ (emotional intelligence) ability. I think he has an amazing ability to read a room, and I would like to bottle some of that and somehow figure out what he does. He has navigated some incredible situations and I’d like to know how.
You’ve had quite complex working roles, what do you do to wind down and manage stress?
I have three small children and they help to switch off from work because they’re pretty demanding and all consuming. I like to exercise when I can and find this really important for my mental health. I am a big fan of good food and good wine and especially enjoy nights out with my husband or friends.
What’s your favourite place you’ve travelled to?
My husband and I went to Antarctica on our honeymoon and it was an amazing trip. I have backpacked through Europe, Africa and Central America and lived in California and without question, Antarctica was by far the most amazing place I’ve ever been to. It’s so unspoiled, so remote and absolutely breathtaking.
Last but not least, how do you define success?
Success for me is being happy! Doing a job that I relish and where I can make a difference, working with people I respect and most importantly, coming home to the most important people in my world - my family. In our modern world, we’ve never had more and humanity has never been so unhappy. Why is this? We’re always chasing the next big thing, we are on technology overload and maybe we just need to sit back, smell the roses and enjoy all the small things that make us smile. (In saying that, I have a massive shoe addiction!)
At the end of the road, I want to say I’ve lived life to the full and I’ve enjoyed the journey.