Trading up with performance coaching

How Mizuho is using coaching to power performance in our trading business

April 2021

Global Markets, EMEA
Mizuho International plc

We are all familiar with the idea of coaching as a driver of high performance in sports, however coaching has applications in many other areas of personal performance. It is with this in mind that Mizuho’s London business has undertaken an ambitious programme that seeks to use performance coaching to help support, develop and mobilise our traders, and our trading business, to move towards higher levels of performance.

Mizuho is working with two specialist Trader Performance Coaches, Peter Burditt and Steven Goldstein, to deliver their unique and powerful Trader Performance Coaching Programme. The programme, which they have evolved and developed over the past 20 years, combines the best of executive coaching principles, applied to the situations and realities that people face when working in trading and financial market roles.

Powering better performance

The concept of the coaching is akin to how coaching is used in sport. Talented sportspeople work with coaches outside of the field of battle, so they can be at their best, mentally, emotionally and physically, when engaged in the heat of battle. In sport, what differentiates elite performers from their rivals, is their ability to bring the best of themselves to their game on a regular basis. This is often more critical to sustained success than any particular technical edge. To this extent, trading shares many similarities in sport, making it as much, if not more, of a performance activity than an intellectual pursuit.

The coaching Peter and Steve deliver works to help people illuminate their own actions, making them more aware of their behaviours and exploring with them how they can bring the best of themselves to their role. The coaching enables the traders to see themselves through a clearer lens, prompting them to think deeply about and reflect upon what they do and how they do it. The coaches act as both a catalyst for self-development, and a guide to support the traders on their self-improvement journey.

Building a culture of high performance in financial markets

Whilst conceptually the coaching’s aims are akin to those seen in sport, the similarities end there. The nature of trading is very different to sport.

Trading is an activity that requires clarity of mind, careful planning, and the ability to make split second decisions in fast moving volatile, complex and uncertain environments. In an investment bank, it also requires a team focus, a competitive spirit and a broader business perspective. Traders must ensure clients’ needs are serviced through their interactions with the sales teams and must provide access to markets for other parts of the business. Within these competing demands the traders have to quote competitive prices, take on and manage risks and generate income from the volatile swings and gyrations of markets.

Historically, traders have developed and learned their skills and abilities on the job, gaining experience whilst receiving both direct and indirect mentoring from people around them. However, the nature of the job has changed significantly in recent years. Markets are far more commoditised, new regulations have placed limits on many activities, electronic trading continues to grow, as has the use of trading algorithms by clients. There is now far less margin available on client business to be extracted through traditional trading activities. As a consequence, news skills and abilities are needed to monetise the value in the franchise. Marginal gains in personal performance therefore start to become a significant edge. By working with coaches who have a deep understanding of the nature of the job and the business, these gains can be uncovered and catalysed.

Mobilising the hidden strengths in our trading business

Whilst the coaching looks to work with each trader on a one-to-one personal basis, the broader business system also benefits from the coaching. Throughout the programme, the business’ leaders will be receiving feedback on themes and observations the coaches notice about the organisation. This enables them to gain a new perspective on the business through lenses that are both objective and unbiased. This systemic perspective will enable the business’ leaders to explore how to work better and more effectively. They can consider how they can support their people more productively, and how they communicate better with them. They can seek to improve internal communications and collaboration within and between the teams and other parts of the franchise. Crucially, they will receive the sort of objective critique of their own actions that are not normally available to leaders in an organisational environment.

Whilst sharing their observations with the leaders, the coaches are always careful not to break any boundaries of confidentiality with the traders. The success of the programme is dependent on ensuring a high degree of trust is maintained with all parties at all times.

"Our partnership with Strategic Development Consultants Ltd demonstrates how we are looking at new ways of being more productive and supportive of our people at all times," says Asif Godall, Head of Global Markets, EMEA. "Cultivating high performance and providing our people with resources to support them in achieving their goals, are the driving forces behind Mizuho’s decision to commit to engaging with this project."

Global Markets in EMEA 

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