If a well-run business is akin to a well-oiled engine, then business management is the oil. For a business manager, the last year would have meant working with all departments to maintain business-as-usual amid the pandemic.
For trading business management (TBM), this means helping global markets businesses achieve sustainable strategies, operating practices and governance aligned with corporate policies and risk appetite.
TBM typically works directly with the front office, providing support in a few core areas: business management, supervision, trade support and regulatory change management.
‘The diversity of work creates a different dynamic each day; there is an opportunity to see everything’
This is a fast-paced role that is interconnected with the business. The trading business manager works across all trading desks and having a well-rounded appreciation of the day-to-day activities of each and how they intersect with other in key support areas.
TBM provides leadership teams with information, reporting and support to ensure that trading operational risks are appropriately managed. It ensures that adherence to internal policies and procedures, and regulatory guidelines, is effective.
It also works with control function partners – for example, risk, legal, compliance, anti-money laundering and audit – to assess risks, and develop and implement proactive strategies to manage regulatory and governance issues.
TBM often acts as a delegate on projects, initiatives and other forums, as well as taking roles on local governance committees. The nature of the responsibilities means that a large part of the day is spent with colleagues spanning a variety of areas and regions.
‘The diversity of work creates a different dynamic each day; even working from home, there is an opportunity to see everything,’ says Siobhan Blackwell FCCA, vice president, TBM at TD Securities in Dublin.
A strong knowledge of capital markets and key regulations is a prerequisite. Strong verbal, written and interpersonal skills, as well as being able to work dynamically and under pressure, are also important.
‘TBM is less analytical and more big-picture than finance,’ says Blackwell. You need to be able to span multiple topics that may seem dissimilar at first glance, but applying a strategic lens often reveals interconnectedness to other areas and work streams.
While TBM has some routine elements, the nature of the role requires a more flexible approach to each working day, as new tasks come in and others are reprioritised.
‘You need to apply a proactive and collaborative approach to pull together the right mix of inputs to help get things over the line. Therefore, the role requires a degree of self-assuredness and a strong ‘can-do’ attitude,’ says Blackwell.
In addition, the breadth of the role means that there is real scope for continuous learning and development beyond training and induction periods.
Getting in and getting on
While not a prerequisite, having the ACCA Qualification provides a good foundation for TBM. Finance professionals are accustomed to working within a framework of control, oversight and governance processes. Many of the same principles apply to a TBM role, with the key difference being that it helps the business to achieve the desired operating model and practices.
Coming from a financial management role within investment firms is a valid path, as such candidates will have typically worked closely with the business. This experience helps to build good product knowledge, which really lends itself to a TBM role.
Experience of working closely with (or directly within) capital markets, coupled with strong product knowledge, will also make you well suited to TBM roles. It’s important, too, to have good understanding of regulations – in particular, MiFID II (Markets in Financial Instruments Directive II, which is a key piece of European financial services regulation).
Also useful is an appreciation of the roles of risk, finance, operations, compliance and governance within an organisation, and how these functions support the business.
Working in TBM opens up a broad range of future role and development options related to the COO suite, going beyond the opportunities offered within the finance function.
The nature of TBM means that it also develops a broad strategic management skillset. ‘I’m currently finishing my MBA and have observed a correlation between the strategic skillset the MBA instills and that which I’m developing within my TBM role,’ Blackwell says.