Could you tell us about yourself and your background?
I grew up in Northern Ireland before moving to Southampton to study Maths with Actuarial Science. I moved to London for my graduate job, and I’ve been living here since. In my spare time I love to cook, box, and play guitar. I also enjoy heading back to Northern Ireland to spend time on the beach with my two dogs.
I am extremely passionate about Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DE&I), particularly as a member of the LGBT+ community. Alongside my day-to-day job, I am heavily involved with the Aspect DE&I Committee.
When did you join Aspect and what is your role?
I joined Aspect in 2015 as a Fund Accountant and I am currently Head of Fund Accounting. The Fund Accounting team is part of the wider “Middle and Back Office” function. Fundamentally we are responsible for the valuation of the Aspect funds and managed accounts, but we also get involved in a wide range of tasks such as fund launches, restructures, audits and setting trading levels.
Did you always want to work in Fund Accounting?
I originally wanted to be an Actuary, however as I got further into my degree, I realised that wasn’t the right career path for me. I love interacting with people and working in a team. As I found out more about Financial Services, going into Asset Management seemed like a good option. I completed my graduate job at a Fund Administrator which gave me an amazing foundation to build on before moving across to the buy side.
What makes a good Fund Accountant?
I think the term “Accounting” is a little misleading when it comes to Fund Accounting!
The best Fund Accountants I know have great analytical and maths skills, but also push the boundaries in terms of automation and technology. One of the great things during my career at Aspect has been working closely with the Software Development team, automating processes, and developing my own technology skills. Not something you typically associate with traditional accounting! We are constantly interacting with other teams, brokers, administrators, and clients, so good communication skills are a must too.
What is your favourite part of a standard day at Aspect?
Without a doubt my favourite part is the incredible people I get to work alongside every day. Everyone is extremely friendly and approachable, regardless of seniority. There are so many opportunities to get involved with different departments and colleagues that it keeps things very exciting and fresh. As a result of this, no two days are ever the same. Whilst my main role is in Fund Accounting, I can find myself working alongside teams such as Finance, Legal, Software Development, Operations and Treasury.
What has been the most unexpected thing about your role at Aspect?
Most of my role and career here has been unexpected! From day one there has been a huge level of responsibility, particularly compared to larger administrators and banks. You can make your own path and I have been able to develop my own personal interest in technology by getting involved in company-wide projects.
Aspect recently won the first Eurohedge Diversity Prize. As a member of the DE&I committee how would you describe Aspect’s efforts in this space?
Whilst we always recognise there is more to be done in the DE&I space, I am immensely proud of Aspect’s achievements so far. We have only had a formal DE&I committee for eighteen months, but the principles have been at the heart of the firm’s culture since day one. I think we are an industry leader in our use of the apprenticeship levy programme for example. Having an apprentice in my own team has been one of the most rewarding parts of my job and I would encourage all companies to investigate using the scheme.
We have amazing support and sponsorship from the Board which allows the committee to focus on our DE&I initiatives. It’s been a busy year so far: we celebrated International Women’s Day with our first “Every Aspect: Coffee and Conversation” session for which we had fantastic feedback.; we released our first quarterly newsletter on “Access Initiatives and Diverse Talent”; we cleaned up our Technology Terminology to ensure no exclusionary terms are being used; and we also completed our first DE&I data gathering survey. We plan to use the results to help us understand our staff better, base our future initiatives on evidence rather than assumptions and allow us to track our progress on these statistics over time. We are looking forward to continuing our efforts in the DE&I space.
What is the best part of working on Aspect’s DE&I committee?
Personally, I have really enjoyed working with a group of passionate individuals from all areas of the business. We are quite a diverse group with a wide range of opinions, leading to some very interesting discussions at our committee meetings.
More broadly, I was really pleased to see the level of support the committee received from all employees including senior management. It really reaffirmed that Aspect is a great place to work with an incredibly caring group of employees.
Any blogs or podcasts you follow that you would recommend to someone interested in the industry?
I am more of a reader. In terms of blogs, I follow Radical Candor, I think they have some great advice on leadership and management styles. I recently finished reading “Demanding More” by Sheree Atcheson which is probably one of the best books I have read on DE&I. I highly recommend it to everyone, not just those interested in DE&I.