Insight & Analysis

Executive View: Arthur Reyes, Global Cash Director at State Street Global Advisors

Published: Nov 2020

In this executive view, we speak to Arthur Reyes about his career and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on his clients and his work.

Arthur Reyes, SSGA

Could you tell us a little about your professional background as well as your current role?

I have been in financial services for more than 15 years. I started my career at Morgan Stanley Investment Management where I joined as one of the first analysts for their then newly launched US Institutional Money Market group. In 2017, I had an opportunity to join State Street Global Advisors to lead their global cash investor coverage for New York City-based financial institutions, and have been there for more than three years now.

I see my role as very much that of a business development leader and relationship manager, engaging with both traditional and alternative investment managers, private equity, and banks about the wide range of investment approaches and strategies we offer in the short-term fixed income space.

What motivates or inspires you in your career?

I would say there are three things that motivate me. First, the desire to learn and to grow. Second, the desire to help others. And third – I like to build things.

It’s easy to go along in life doing what’s comfortable, but if you don’t challenge yourself with things outside of your comfort zone, are you denying yourself the opportunity to grow and realise your full potential? From traveling to new places and trying new foods to exploring new solutions in a rigid market place – it applies to all facets of life.

I also believe it’s important to help others. When I meet with existing or potential clients, I aim to listen more than I speak. And the reason is so I can fully understand their situation and what hurdles they are facing, and in turn be in the position to offer the right solutions. Outside of my 9-to-5, I try to find time to give back through volunteer work. For many years I volunteered at a non-profit that helped prepare high-achieving high school students from low-income households for college success.

And lastly I enjoy building things, whether it’s helping to build a team or a new product, or finding new opportunities within sectors or market segments that we haven’t focused on before. That entrepreneurial spirit really excites me. However, nothing excites me more than building a large tower or bridge out of toy blocks with my son.

How have you and your clients been coping with the global pandemic?

I am based in New York City, so the first couple of months were quite difficult. For both my clients and myself, this pandemic has really impacted all aspects of life, professionally and personally. Adapting to the new normal – or rather ‘abnormal’ – has forced us to be creative and innovative in the ways we engage with each other. To be in an environment where we have to be physically distanced is a challenge: instead of office visits or in-person meetings I now do most of my engagement virtually.

Many of us are experiencing the same challenges. We are all working remotely. But because we are communicating even more than we have done in the past, we are more connected. In turn, I feel much closer to my clients.

I have family globally and we hold Zoom calls on a regular basis, so I would say that if there is a positive aspect in all this, it is the way that we have learned to utilise technology. That, in turn, has given us new opportunities to enjoy a more balanced life.

In terms of what your clients are focusing on, has it led to any changes regarding their goals and objectives?

For people who had never done so before, working from home was a challenge. In the beginning there were so many variables with the liquidity crisis and with the markets being so volatile: people were very reactive. However, in the United States, positive intervention from the Federal Reserve and other government bodies helped normalise the situation and calm the markets.

I think my clients were then able to catch their breath – rather than putting out fires and just focusing on their day-to-days, they were able to start to evaluate more long-term projects. Presently, clients are focusing on managing risk, understanding cashflows and operating effectively in a zero-interest rate environment.

Are there any learning experiences from the past few months you would like to share?

People have been far more effective working from home than we ever thought possible, but it has not necessarily been easy. My wife also works in financial services and we have a two year old son. Working while also having parental obligations is tough to juggle. We aren’t alone in that; there are many others in a similar situation.

Working from home means you are living in your office, so setting boundaries to maintain a healthy balance is vital. It’s easy for divisions between life and work to become blurred when you are working from home.

It is also important to establish when you are at work, when it is family time and when it is your own personal time. For example, when we are at home having a meal, we have no electronics: we are trying to find that rhythm, that balance. It’s important, because if things are unmanageable you become much less effective – you need to adapt to the new environment and then move forward.

What will you be focusing on in 2021?

On the work front it will be finding new ways of effectively establishing new business relationships in what has become a changed environment. In the past, a lot of business development revolved around social interactions, going to conferences and other networking events. That has changed, so the challenge will be in finding new ways of establishing contact with new and potential clients.

On a personal level it will be to prioritise health, especially now that I’m cooking a lot of comfort meals at home. I would definitely like to get out on my bike more!

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