Fireside Friday with… State Street Global Advisors’ Khursheda Fazylova

The TRADE sits down with Khursheda Fazylova, fixed income trader, assistant vice president at State Street Global Advisors – and one of our 2023 rising stars – to discuss the dynamic of the trading desk, main focuses for the team at present and what makes for maximum effectiveness in the space.

How would you describe the dynamic of the trading desk [at State Street Global Advisors]?

At State Street Global Advisors, we operate in a fast-paced environment. For the desk to be successful, we all have to be comfortable navigating highly dynamic markets. One has to constantly adapt to rapidly changing conditions, make quick decisions, and execute with as minimal a footprint as possible.

Our team works in close collaboration with portfolio managers, understanding portfolio construction and the underlying benchmark (e.g. index events, new issuance, downgrades) is extremely important, as poor trading strategy can have a large drag on the performance and can add on to the ‘tracking error’. Effective communication and coordination is something that we all value and we make sure we have a clear, concise and swift exchange of information with the portfolio managers, middle office, etc.

The nature of a trading desk means significant amounts of money can be gained or lost in a matter of seconds. It’s not a secret that being pedantic, detail-oriented and resilient to stress is the key. Our decisions are data-driven, we do not only monitor the real-time data but also conduct a lot of ad-hoc and pre/post trade analysis utilising code and data-cloud technologies for example. 

State Street Global Advisors’ London fixed income desk, led by Sharon Ruffles, has received many industry recognitions (e.g. 2023 Fixed Income Desk of the Year, The TRADE) and the team’s extensive experience in the markets lays a strong foundation and environment for “green” professionals like me to learn from and grow.

What are the main topics the fixed income trading team are focused on?

Apart from constantly monitoring the macro environment around us, interest rates movements, credit spreads and credit risk, yield curves shape changes, inflation expectations, liquidity and loads more, we have to also be very aware of the changes in regulation and technological advancements. 

It’s not a secret that with the introduction of AI and big data, some parts of fixed income markets might become more efficient and we might well be moving towards a more ‘electronified’ future. However, given how fragmented fixed income markets are and how illiquid some bonds are (for example, high yield, convertible bonds, securitised, structured loans), I suspect we still won’t be able to fully outsource trading to machines in the near future. But who knows!

AI evolution is not linear to time, it’s characterised by periods of rapid advancement and innovation. The fact that the computation power is accelerating plays a critical role, if we succeed in quantum computing that might result in non-linear growth spurts.

Are you seeking the skill-sets of traders evolving?

Yes, big time. It’s hard to find anyone in my generation that is not familiar with big data, coding or hasn’t studied data science. The truth is, there will only be more and more data and one has to be able to digest it and process it fast in order to make better informed decisions in real time. 

I am very passionate about big data and coding, I code in three programming languages (Python, R, SQL) and recently have picked up BQL (Bloomberg querying language) which I use a lot within their BQuant platform.
What’s the best advice you’ve been given, or could give, for being effective on the desk? 

I think my advice would be to never stop learning, improving yourself and to always question the status quo. Being naturally curious and disciplined helps a lot as well. I would also advise enjoying the journey every step of the way!