Sam Bussey, Global Head of NDF & FX Reset Risk Mitigation at CAPITALAB talks to Lynn Strongin Dodds about FX, personal training and diversity.
Although Sam Bussey’s career has had many twists over the years, taking risks and detours has been among the hallmarks. She has honed her skills every step of the way, whether it was at the start of the journey as a voice broker or to her current role as Global Head of NDF & FX Reset Risk Mitigation at CAPITALAB.
Many lessons were learnt but among the most important was and still is “to enjoy what you do, challenge yourself and bring different skills to new roles,” says Bussey, whose first job in finance at the age of 20 was a voice broker at Godsell, Astely & Pearce Ltd., trading US dollars and, at the time, Deutschemark forward rate agreements (FRA) and interest rate swaps (IRS). The original plan had been to be either an actor or PE teacher but as she notes, an unsupportive headmistress did not “allow me to do drama.”
However, Bussey was fast on her feet, resilient and disciplined and it was not surprising she was promoted to senior broker within four years. These traits came in handy when she was approached by Prebon Yamane to run the Deutschemark FRA and IRS team, and within a year was promoted to Deputy Managing Director of Currencies.
“I was running a desk of 15-20 men, who frankly didn’t want a 26-year-old upstart managing them,” she adds. “It was very tough. I had always promised myself that I would get out of the market by the time I was 30 and do something else, which I did.”
The path eventually led to one of her first loves – physical education. For seven years she worked in gym management and as a personal trainer at NEWS UK, who had a large on-site gym for their staff. “One of the joys of the job was to work with people, quite often women, who felt uncomfortable about going to a gym,” says Bussey.
She adds, “I was able to help build their confidence and overcome their fear of going to a gym, but also help them achieve goals, such as running a marathon, or competing in a cycling event. Working so closely meant that I built great friendships, many of which continue to this day. I left after seven years but I am a great advocator of physical health and a strong believer that exercise should be an important part of everyday life.”
Bussey changed directions again in 2004 and spent roughly seven years in the real estate universe. However, like personal training, it was not completely off the beaten track as her dad was a real estate agent and she likened the experience to broking in that it involved negotiating buying, selling and putting deals together.
Her first job was for a start-up real estate agency that sold and let large developments of properties before moving onto Rooftop Mortgages, a Bear Stearns subsidiary, in 2006, where she built a team to deal with repossessed properties, the result of foreclosed mortgaged loans. She then worked for a large hedge fund, pricing and managing their residential property portfolios.
However, in 2011, the challenge of working on electronic risk mitigation platforms for NDF and Libor-based products brought her full circle – to broking – and Tullet Prebon, which in 2004 when known as Collins Stewart Tullett acquired Prebon Yamane. It is now part of TP ICAP.
After five years she moved into her current role and launched Capitalab NDF Match, a post-trade risk reduction platform with a team of eleven – six based in London, two in US and three in Asia. Starting from square one seems to be a theme running throughout Bussey’s career. “I really enjoy building new businesses from scratch,” she says. “We launched Capitalab NDF Match in 2017, building new client relationships, and bringing in new revenue streams.”
One of the keys to success, according to Bussey is to ensure the organisation is diverse and inclusive. “As a provider of a service it’s important that we reflect the diversity of our customer base,” she says. “Capitalab NDF Match have five women and six men of varying ages from different education, work and ethnic backgrounds and we each bring something different to the mix. Our diversity helps us see a variety of different issues, problems and opportunities.”
Bussey also believes there needs to be different approaches to recruitment. She is an advocate of apprenticeships and sees them as “valuable as a university degree. A lot of companies want to hire people from the Russell Group of universities with the same degrees and experience. It is no secret that the best businesses are those with the greatest diversity of thought and experience.”
Bussey has not only put these views into practice as a manager, but also industry wide. She is Co-Chair of BGC Partners’ Network of Women which was set up in 2014 to support the recruitment, development and retention of women across the BGC Partners and affiliates.
The network offers formal networking, mentoring, career panels, speaker events, and skills workshops, as well as career advancement opportunities for women both within its businesses, and the wider financial services sector. “We work with senior managers to support the progression of women as well as hold events to explain why diversity and inclusion matters,” she adds.
The last event we held in person before Covid was at the NED Hotel called ‘Diversity and Inclusion Matter’. We had a diverse panel including Andrew Hauser, executive director of markets from the BoE, Marie-Jeanne Deverdun, CFO investment bank at Deutsche Bank and Sue Day, ex-England rugby captain.”
She notes that “two of the many Zoom events we held during lockdown featured Tracy Edwards (who left school at 15 and skippered the first all-female crew to sail around the world in the 1989/90 Whitbread Round the World Race), and Sandie Okoro, Senior Vice President and World Bank General Counsel.
It is incredible for the women to surround themselves with the best and brightest and to hear their experiences. I think there is still a lot of work to do until there is equality, but we are on the right track. Things are better in financial services than when I first started.”
Bussey is also involved with a number of charities including First Workings in its new London-based programme, as a mentor to a student from the London Academy of Excellence in Tottenham. She is also a Non-Executive Director of Jubilee Hall Trust, a group of community-based gyms in central London.
In so many ways, Bussey believes her success has also been a vindication of her experiences at school. “I was only ever interested in playing sport at school and under-performed academically. I was recently diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) which explained my poor academic performance, but also explains my energy, creativity and ability to juggle many things at once.
It’s taken a long time for me to realise that being academic and being intelligent aren’t necessarily the same thing. Neurodiversity comes with some great benefits, and I’ve been lucky to succeed in roles that suit that diversity. Although the challenges in personal training, real estate and broking may not be the same, the adrenaline buzz is.”
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