Rachel D’Antonio is a managing director, the treasurer and the head of broker relations at Point72 Asset Management and the highest-ranking woman at the firm. D’Antonio is responsible for overseeing the family office’s equity financing, managing its credit counterparty relationships and its contract negotiations across products and counterparties. She is the firm’s main liaison with big banks.
“I started my career at Point72 in operations, and then about a year and a half ago they asked me to take on the role of treasurer, which involves handling our financing activities, cash management and credit processes,” D’Antonio said. “In the beginning part of 2016, they asked me to take over broker relations as well.
“Most places don’t combine the two roles, but the biggest broker relationships we have are with the large banks, so that overlaps with my treasury responsibilities, as I’m their main point of contact,” she said.
D’Antonio has a liberal arts degree, which is obviously not a typical course of study to enter the financial services industry. However, she planned out her career path earlier than many students, even some who studied business, economics or mathematics.
“I grew up in [New York City], and my father was in finance – pretty early on I knew I liked numbers and problem solving,” D’Antonio said. “I did internships with banks, and while at one point I was an idealistic college student who thought the world is my oyster and there were other things I could do, but I always thought there would be an aspect of finance to whatever I did.
“I was pretty driven and focused in that sense,” she said. “My parents told me I had to have a job when I graduated, and so I made sure I had one – I joined J.P. Morgan soon after I graduated.”
Before she joined Point72, D’Antonio worked at J.P. Morgan for nine years as a vice president managing various middle-office product teams.
“J.P. Morgan definitely offered a great opportunity for me out of college – it was a structured environment with an excellent training program,” D’Antonio said. “I worked with people in my same age range right out of college and got exposure to a competitive working environment in a friendly way, so it was a positive experience.
D’Antonio joined Point72 in 2004 and six years later was appointed MD and ops chief.
“I like the idea of being able to get things done a bit quicker than you could do at a bank, for example, process changes,” D’Antonio said. “It’s a smaller organization, so getting to know people is much easier, and you’re able to navigate the organization much quicker.
“The level of accountability is higher – because it’s a smaller firm, you have to own the project you’re working on, and you have to understand every aspect of it, because there is no one to hand it off to,” she said.
Over the course of her 13 years at Point72, D’Antonio had done her fair share of interviews. What does she look for?
“I actually came from a liberal arts background, which aren’t the quantifiable skills that you’d typically associate with success in financial services, but I did acquire critical thinking skills, which is something I always look for in candidates,” D’Antonio said. “Other important attributes are a desire to learn, the ability to learn, ambition, work ethic, curiosity, a passion for what they want to do, a strong directive of what they want to focus on, what they’re able to bring to the organization and creating a role that makes sense for those skills.”
It is not lost on D’Antonio that she is a woman working in an industry that is still male-dominated, but she doesn’t dwell on it.
“My gender hasn’t really played a role in my success or lack of my success in my career,” D’Antonio said. “I have been the only female in a conference room with only male counterparts, but I haven’t let my gender become a factor when making decisions and working with colleagues.
“Don’t let it be a factor – go after what you’re interested in,” she said. “Express your opinion – don’t let it hold you back in terms of how you navigate your organization or go after career success.”
Another piece of advice? Don’t be wishy-washy or vague when an interviewer or manager asks you want you want. The most important thing is to form an opinion about what they really want to do, D’Antonio said.
“When I ask newer college graduates or juniors what they want to do, many give an open-ended answer, thinking that’s better from an employer standpoint, but it’s more interesting to hear what they don’t want and specifics about what they do want – what they like about the firm they’re interviewing with,” she said. “I want to know if they’re specifically interested in the job they’re interviewing for.
“Someone with a strong opinion about what they want to get out of the role they’re looking for over the first couple of years moves to the top of my list versus someone who isn’t as driven or concise about what they’re looking for.”
Image of D’Antonio courtesy of Point72