James has 20 years’ experience in the capital markets, from the early days of his career on Jarden’s trading desk, to his appointment as CEO in 2017.
People Focus: Todd Taverna
Director, Institutional Equities
Todd works closely with Jarden’s institutional clients across Australasia, informing them of trends and opportunities in the New Zealand and offshore markets, and facilitating the sale and purchase process.
Todd began his career as a chartered accountant, then a corporate accountant working in industry in Melbourne, Australia and the United Kingdom. Whilst in Europe, he got his first taste of the capital markets, working for Trafigua in Switzerland as a dealer’s assistant on the commodity trading desk.
Todd joined the wholesale team at Jarden in 2003, and has over 15 years’ sales trading experience. He has particular expertise in broking New Zealand large-cap and mid-cap companies to domestic funds and Australian institutions.
He holds a BCom from Deakin University and is an Authorised Financial Adviser.
Tell me about your current role at Jarden
I’m a sales trader in the institutional equities team. It’s my job to connect with a range of institutional clients across Australasia and keep them updated on market flows and new market information that might impact their investments on a daily basis.
That means keeping them up to speed with how their investments are performing daily in the New Zealand and offshore markets, and gauging whether they are interested in selling, or buying, and at what price. I have to work out how to relay that market information to the best of my ability, and in the best interests of the client.
Working in a live market, prices can change quite quickly, so I have to keep an eye on all markets. A deal has to be fair to both parties, so if a sector rallies in Australia and the price shifts dramatically I need to be quick to relay that to both the buyer and seller, and be willing to start again if the situation has significantly changed.
You began your career as an accountant. Tell us about your move into institutional equities.
Like any new job, you can read all the theory but it’s only when you’re thrown into it that you really learn. I discovered how volatile the markets can be and that time is very precious. Sometimes you’ve got ten things that have to be done and it all has to happen right now. If you forget to call an interested client back, you’re in trouble.
I learned that when I slow it down and follow the process, everything gets done. While I don’t have the luxury of finishing off tasks at night, on the plus side once the market is closed, my work is often done for the day.
What do you find most rewarding about your work?
I’ve been in this field for over 15 years now and over that time I’ve enjoyed working closely with clients and building up trust and rapport. That said, the industry changes quickly and many of the companies I worked with 10 years ago no longer exist. You’ve got to keep on building new relationships and finding out who is interested in what you have to offer.
One of the best things about working at Jarden is that the world is your oyster. If you think you have the ability to win a new account, you can go for it. I’ve gained many clients in Australia simply by getting on a plane to meet with them. When you’re face-to-face, the dialogue becomes more open and free-flowing, and it’s easier to build that relationship. After that, it’s about keeping in touch regularly and making sure that when they do invest, they have an enjoyable experience.
The financial markets have seen a lot of changes over the last few years. How has that impacted on your work?
The market is continually evolving and it’s important to recognise that and move with the changes. Technology has shifted a lot and that has impacted both on the way the market operates and the way we serve our clients. We used to see orders spread throughout the day, but now we will often see large volume trades towards the close of the market.
While computers and algorithms are changing the industry, the one thing that hasn’t changed is the importance of picking up the telephone and saying hello. It’s easy for someone to say no by email, but when you hear their voice you can get a better sense of where their interests lie. You have to really know your clients, understand what they want and know their limits.
What do you enjoy most about your role?
I grew up in a country town in Victoria, Australia, where everything centred around sport. There are a lot of similarities between sport and what we do on the desk - that’s why I love trading so much.
We don’t need annual reviews to find out how we are doing; we can track our individual performance daily on the live ladder. That’s a winning culture that I enjoy. Every day you are striving to be number one and there is no finish line.
Ultimately though, we’re part of a team: we win together and we lose together. You can’t just rely on one superstar - it’s a joint effort.
Speaking of sport tell us about your interest in Australian Rules Football.
When you come from Melbourne, footy is your religion. I played to a decent standard and have helped out with the New Zealand national team. I don’t get a lot of time to play these days, but I am brainwashing my four kids to get into Aussie rules too.
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