Helping clients to invest wisely

WHAT does a day in the life of a fixed income portfolio manager entail?

WHAT does a day in the life of a fixed income portfolio manager entail?

My day revolves around assessing what happens in the domestic and international markets in order to make informed decisions in managing the portfolios.

This includes reading or listening to the loads of research done by brokers. Assets in money market funds are short-term in nature and for this reason we have maturities on a daily basis.

Therefore, I am constantly looking for investment opportunities to maximise the yield for my clients with the lowest risk possible. Investment decisions are made within the client's mandate while implementing our strategic views and adhering to international best investment practice.

The day further consists of investment strategy meetings where investment opportunities are discussed. Finally, further to my portfolio management responsibilities, I also have fixed income trading responsibilities for the fixed income team.

Why did you decide on this career?

After completing my degree at university I started my career as an administration clerk at the South African Reserve Bank (SARB). It was here that I was exposed to the trading environment, which seemed exciting, stimulating and rewarding. Once I saw the energy in the trading room, I knew this was the direction I wanted my career to follow.

How did you get into the career?

I moved from being an administration clerk to a fixed income trader at the SARB. In the trading room, I was responsible for pricing government bonds. At that stage, the SARB managed the funding requirements for the government.

When these responsibilities were handed over to the primary dealers (banks) in 1998, I left the Reserve Bank and joined the asset management industry. Shortly thereafter I was promoted from being a fixed income dealer to a portfolio manager.

What is most challenging about the job?

The investment industry is a dynamic environment with constant news-flow and imperfect information. The main challenge is filtering the noise, forming an investment view based on sound research and then executing our investment decisions.

A further challenge is managing the portfolio within the regulatory framework, which was drafted in 1956 and is not cognisant of the new investment instruments that are available today.

What do you love most about your career?

It is an extremely dynamic and constantly evolving environment; two consecutive days are never the same. We are faced with new challenges all the time and when good performance is achieved it's the cherry on the top.

What type of person would make a success of this position?

A highly motivated and skilled team player with strong social and interpersonal skills with excellent networking and relationship building abilities. One also needs to have a strong personality.

What subjects do you need to pass in high school to be able to study towards this career?

Mathematics, accounting and economics.