Robert Bowles works as a product manager within the EBS market at interdealer broker ICAP. He joined their graduate scheme in 2013, having been part of the internship programme the previous year. He went to Loughborough University.
How did you break into your current role?
I was offered a place on the Graduate Scheme following a successful summer internship. From there I was placed into EBS where I initially held a role in Sales and then in Product Management.
What advice would you give to other graduates hoping for a career in ICAP?
The main piece of advice is research ICAP, its competitors and the regulatory landscape which will shape the future of the business as this is more relevant than ever.
What made you choose interdealer broking over another financial services career?
I felt it gave the ideal mix of client interaction within a personable and sociable company, whilst also offering the analytical side. Moreover, ICAP is a very meritocratic company where results are noticed and advancement isn’t tied to seniority or time at the company.
How important is it to secure an internship if you have ambitions to work in ICAP?
Gaining a place on the internship definitely gives you an edge because it allows you to see if ICAP is the type of place that you would like to work, however, gaining one at another related firm is a bonus still. Those who haven’t, simply have to ensure that they come across well enough in their application and interviews to show the promise needed to work at ICAP.
What have you been working on today?
Mainly analysing how some of our hedge fund clients trade to better understand their needs. The product manager role is a bit more detail orientated and requires you to understand clients trading strategies and then create the products which suit their requirements.
How would you describe a typical day in your current role?
I usually arrive into work around 7.30am. When something is urgent and important I can stay later, but in general the working hours are very reasonable and flexible. During that time I could be running some analysis for our account managers, visiting clients to discuss new products both abroad and in London or even writing the design specifications for new products.
What's the best part of your job?
The exposure to senior employees at our clients is one of the best aspects. This means you have to be knowledgeable about the topic you are referring to, however, getting access to build relationships with such senior individuals is a rare thing at my age. Having the opportunity to travel is also a very good experience and something the company is very open to.
What's the worst part of your job?
When things go wrong it can inevitably be a bit stressful, but that will be faced in lots of jobs and is something you will have to deal with. Learning to cope with that at an early age teaches you to make precise, informed decisions even when under pressure.
What makes you good at it?
Attention to detail, interest in the product and the ability to adapt to different personalities. Understanding that the conversation you have with a manual trader at a bank is going to be very different from a quantitative trader at a hedge fund is essential. Tailoring your material to their needs and ‘language’ is what makes the difference.
What three key skills do you need to succeed in interdealer broking?
Ability to learn and adapt quickly
Where do you see yourself in five years?
Being responsible for a region from a product management perspective with a remit for several products under the Electronic Markets division, which could be EMEA or other regions.