Asif Godall, Head of Markets, EMEA has been working in global markets for 24 years. He’s traded through the Dotcom bust, 9/11 and COVID. We spoke to him to find out more about his day-to-day role, the future of global markets and his advice for people thinking of a career in investment banking.
“One thing I can say about my career is that I can explain it going backwards but I would have never been able to forecast it going forwards” says Godall, who graduated with a degree in Mathematics from the University of Manchester.
During his final year at university he enrolled on a summer internship at a German investment bank. “I really enjoyed it. I liked the idea of applying math and logic to the markets” he says, adding “I don’t know if the same could have happened if I had done an internship in another industry and I will never know but I’m content about that. I took a decision that working in financial markets would be enjoyable and it has proved to be the right answer. I am still doing it 24 years later and learning new things every week.”
After finishing university, Godall joined the graduate programme at HSBC, where he would stay for 17 years, rotating between various trading desks in London and New York.
“The markets are the sum of people’s views and my job involves interacting with people in EMEA and across the globe on a daily basis.”
Head of Markets EMEA
Whilst at HSBC, he approached the head of the trading floor and was given approval to set up a proprietary trading desk. “I wasn’t getting the broad macroeconomic and financial market impact experience that I craved” he reflects, “this desk allowed me to achieve my goal of understanding macroeconomics and the impact they have on asset prices. I also refined my understanding about capital risk management.”
When asked about why he finds the market fascinating, Godall answers, “the markets capacity to swing in valuations based on a combination of new information and investors emotions is breath-taking.”
A day in the life as Head of Markets
Godall is responsible for the trading, sales, research and structured teams that deal with Mizuho’s corporate and institutional customers, covering FX, Rates, Credit and Equity asset classes.
“Much of my job involves managing the risk we retain by making markets in these financial instruments and securities” he states, “it also involves creating products with specific return features that our clients are looking for to hedge or take exposures.”
As well as looking externally at the market, he adds that as a leader, much of his job also involves looking internally, “most importantly it involves managing people and talent. The markets are the sum of people’s views and my job involves interacting with people in EMEA and across the globe on a daily basis.”
The future of global markets
When asked about the biggest challenges facing global markets right now, Godall is quick to respond, “Climate change, geopolitics and inflation”. He expands on this by saying “The first is a new and existential threat the world faces and it needs to be taken very seriously. The second and third we have seen before in different forms.”
“Fiscal policy, monetary policy and political alliances will change to deal with these issues and this will result in changing capital flows which in turn will change asset prices. We need to be ready for these changes. There are opportunities and risks with each of these changes.
“We want to be the leading Asian corporate and investment bank in the region. Mizuho has unique access to capital pools in Japan and Asia and this is a key differentiator for us”.
Head of Markets EMEA
As a global bank, headquartered in Japan, Mizuho is well placed to intermediate these new capital flows. “We want to be the leading Asian corporate and investment bank in the region. Mizuho has unique access to capital pools in Japan and Asia and this is a key differentiator for us”.
What advice do you have for somebody entering a career in global markets?
Although there are unending potential pieces of advice to give to somebody looking to start a career in global markets, Godall keeps it very simple(ish) – “Love what you do, think in bets and peel the onion”.
“If you don’t love what you do, it will tire you out because there are a lot of ups and downs in any career or industry” he explains. “Attitude is so important. There’s a saying – hire for attitude, train for skills. To have the right attitude you need to really love the idea of a career in this industry.”
In thinking about his career, and on ‘peeling the onion’ he continues, “the most important thing is to constantly be learning. You will discover new things by going deeper into subjects and by asking the simply question ‘why?’ If you do that then you will have a rewarding and fulfilling career.”
Finally, when it comes to ‘thinking in bets’, Godall expands by saying “you can make the right decision with the best information but still get an outcome that you didn’t expect. You can also see from simple maths that you can often be right for the wrong reasons. It is therefore really important to understand this concept – think in bets and outcomes.”