Shanny Basar speaks to Sukh Bachal about standing your ground, finding the right balance and lending a helping hand.
Sukh Bachal was recently promoted to Customer Success and Sales Strategy Lead (COO’s office) at FlexTrade Systems, which provides execution and order management trading software for equities, foreign exchange, options, futures and fixed income. She has seen her career flash before her eyes when she has disagreed with clients but standing her ground has also helped her achieve success.
Bachal took on her new global role in August as trading systems have needed to adapt to unprecedented changes with the Covid-19 pandemic leading to staff having to work from home while volatility, and volumes, jumped.
Vishal Pandya, chief operating officer of FlexTrade Systems, wrote there was an increase in data volumes of between 34% and 84% in March this year over February. Orders rose by between 40% and 50% and the increase in fills ranged from 45% to 100% over the same timeframe.
Bachal says, “Our clients had started to work remotely before the lockdown so we had done testing. As a global firm we had also supported desks in Asia, so we had a practice run and were very well prepared.”
She continued that, as a result, remote working has gone well, and clients have not struggled. Working from home has also led to clients accelerating the streamlining of workflows and reducing the number of screens that traders need to view.
“For a while FlexTrade has been the only true multi-asset software that has the range as well as depth in each asset class, and can provide one point of entry for an end-to-end customer experience for every asset class,” Bachal added. “Firms also want to optimise their relationships with vendors so catering for every asset type is essential.”
She highlighted the platform’s flexibility because it removes friction in brittle ecosystems for clients, as well as covering multiple asset classes. For example, clients can connect to a number of fixed income venues and to third parties such as Symphony, the messaging platform, and Liquidnet, the institutional liquidity pool.
In July, FlexTrade announced the direct availability of Liquidnet’s Targeted Invitations in its multi-asset trading blotter for equities. Traders receive actionable liquidity from other Liquidnet buyside members and selected brokers directly into the parent order blotter which helps them achieve best execution.
Bachal says, “The US is leading innovation as asset managers are trailblazing and open-minded and banks are investing heavily in technology.”
This investment is important as the US presidential election is in November. Shane Remolina, FlexTrade’s Head of Business Development, said in a blog that the months leading up to election day can be volatile.
Remolina warned, “Brokers that successfully manoeuvre through the COVID-volumes deserve praise for navigating this year’s choppiness for sure. Firms that had difficulty through the pandemic could face even tougher challenges come quarter four.”
Bachal has an economics and finance degree from the University of Bristol and then joined the graduate programme at Morgan Stanley, where she worked for six years, specialising in technology and electronic trading. She left the world of finance in 2014 to work for Made by Many, an innovation consultancy, in New York and returned when she joined FlexTrade in 2016.
“The opportunity with FlexTrade provided the perfect mix of technology, working with developers and having financial clients. I found my tribe in fintech,” she says.
She continued that early in her career she overcompensated by acting more like men around her in order to fit in. “However, modern day leadership does not have to meet this stereotype and women can embrace more vulnerability,” Bachal adds.
Her advice to other women is to be introspective. “You should stick to who you are but also consider negative criticism and whether or not it is necessary to change,” she said.
Bachal puts her success down to remaining true to what she thinks and disagreeing well, even when it is with a client. She continued: “It is tough to stand your ground and sometimes my entire career flashes before my eyes, but it has to be done.”
Finance and technology have historically been known for their lack of women. Bachal highlighted that she has been to many meetings where she has been the only woman.
She says, “For the first time I recently went to a meeting with four other women and the atmosphere was different, and how it must feel for men all the time.”
Bachal also commented that when she worked in New York, she saw women lend a hand to each other by making it a priority for themselves. However, she feels that In Europe there is still a lot more work to do in terms of allowing individuals to actively prioritise supporting diversity.
She concludes, “We, like many other firms in finance and tech, have work to do. We want to have a strong diverse workforce across all three geographies, and actively try to do so with our graduate intake.”
©BestExecution & The DESK 2020