Wednesday 07 October 2020 by Chris Thomas fiiginpictures At FIIG

Meet the team - Chris Thomas

Chris_Thomas_351x493I landed back in Melbourne for family reasons after 21 years trading fixed income in Sydney, London and New York.

With most of my kids having left the nest, I and my 17 year old son James settled into the quiet life in South Melbourne, where he attends Albert Park college. I’ve passed on my deep love of Melbourne to him – he’d never known this city having been born in London and by spending his first 15 years in London and Sydney. We reacquainted ourselves with St. Kilda, became members again, and now spend the weekends shouting at Etihad Stadium – or more latterly – at the TV. I’ve assured him it’s a lifetime of misery! Or unrequited love….

My daughters – all 3 of them – are at University in Sydney; one of the less helpful bi-products of spending the previous 2 decades plus in other places. In a normal (non-Covid) world, I try to get there as often as possible and aim to spend 25% of my time there in coming years – and FIIG gives me the amazing flexibility to work in either city; and I genuinely feel at home in both places.

I’ve been at FIIG for 2 years and genuinely love my Melbourne based team; the assiduous Michael Keely, the irascible and lovely Sir Richard Frost, my token Kiwi – the inscrutable and ever professional AK (Aaron Keaney) and my recent import from Persia, via Brisbane, the ever-efficient Sarah Tayebi.

The road back to Melbourne was unusual – most of the last decade was in Sydney, with half of that time spent running Merrill Lynch’s Australian fixed income trading business and much of the recent half running a bar/restaurant in inner-city Enmore/Newtown.

I’ll start with the midlife crisis of the restaurant – actually feel for anyone running one of these types of businesses in this crazy world of lockdown; it’s hard enough to run one in a normal time. Named after a dive bar that I love in Tokyo, my place was - shall we say – a labour of love.

This little experiment of mine – where I cooked every night, shopped and managed - ended up being one of the most rewarding times of my life. Months after setting up we received a great review in the Sydney morning Herald and got straight into that year’s Good Food guide. It’s here if you’d like to read it.

The circuitous route to owning a restaurant ended up being super rewarding too, and I can say I feel so lucky to have lived overseas for 9 years. Some of my favourite memories are of London, where I was lucky to get the chance to run a global trading business, spending significant work-time in Tokyo - and most holidays in Tuscany!

I grew up in Doncaster in a really close family and went to school in Camberwell and then did 2 degrees at Melbourne University. Some families play the piano together or watch Big Brother, but family time for us always revolved around food and cooking together, and it was from my Mum and Grandmother that I learned to cook and bake, and to love it.

I’ve spent 25 or my 30 post-Uni years trading bonds – or involved in fixed income in many varied roles. I was fortunate to land back in Melbourne in time to land an important role in FIIG’s rebuild with many other talented people as part of the team here.

Why do I like the fixed income asset class? It’s an interesting time for current and potential bond investors. Many potential clients’ only exposure to fixed income has been the odd term deposit - there’s a world of different companies to choose from that is wide and deep… I enjoy interacting with clients to help them find the right solution. It can be a technical world – but your friendly FIIG rep can help you!

What are my favourite bonds? I’d choose a couple. I like the Ford 2024 at somewhere around 4.5%. It’s at a discount to par, the Ford “mothership” is mighty, and the rating is a strength, at BB+. I also like secured David Jones bonds – again at a good discount to par with 4.5% coupon – they also yield around 4.5%. It’s a tie on all fronts!

These past months have - for reasons I don’t need to go over again - among the most difficult any of us have experienced. I’ve been lucky to benefit from a strong and very close-knit Melbourne team and a fantastic client base. Thank you.