Sabrina Fox, CEO of ELFA:
“It’s been an exciting start to a transformative year for ELFA.”
The year ahead is set to be a defining one for ELFA.
During the first half of the year, we will conduct a search to bring a Director of Legal & Regulatory onto the team to support our members and the wider asset management community through targeted engagement with regulators and policy-makers.
In March we will host our flagship Career Day event, designed to widen the funnel for individuals from diverse backgrounds coming into the leveraged finance market. This event was responsible for hiring some of the excellent Research Analysts you will meet in this newsletter – one of whom, Michael Damoah, is currently on the job hunt – we at ELFA will miss him, but this is great news for the firm lucky enough to hire him.
We will publish an update to our ESG Fact Sheet Series, now covering 15 sectors and featuring an Excel table for ESG KPIs and SFDR PAIs. The update clarifies carbon data requests and questions on executive pay structures, anti-bribery, anti-corruption and whistle blower policies and procedures, among other important topics.
We begin our Platinum Partnerships with Covenant Review and Sustainable Fitch, each important players in their respective markets of covenant analysis and ESG scoring. Our work to increase transparency in these areas will only be enhanced by these relationships.
We also plan to deepen engagement between our members and partners even further, providing participating firms in our Partner Programme with periodic meetings with our committee Co-Chairs and distributing summaries of our key initiatives on a quarterly basis. Our partners are integral to our work, helping to guide our efforts to increase the strength and resilience of the leveraged finance market.
We are also seeking to grow our membership beyond the current 62 member firms and I plan to continue the ELFA roadshow to several jurisdictions throughout Europe to ensure that we represent the views and issues of lenders across the continent.
It’s been an exciting start to a transformative year for ELFA. Shortly we will publish our Annual Review for the 2021/2022 membership year – in it we share our growth, achievements and plans for 2022/2023. Engagement is a central focus on of our organisation, so if something piques your interest, we’d love to hear from you!
Q&A with Aaiza Ali and Senan Kiran.
ELFA D&I Committee co-chairs
Aaiza Ali: This is a real passion of mine and from the early days of ELFA I wanted to do something to address what was, back then, a real lack of diversity in the leveraged finance industry. Sabrina was on the same page and together we set out to create best practice and collaborate with other trade bodies to identify how best to promote D&I in our industry. Hence the ELFA D&I committee was formed in 2020. I was so fortunate to be joined by Senan as co-chair a year later - we are both proud of the committee’s achievements so far and the many individuals it has helped.
Senan Kiran: Our focus is supporting undergraduates from non-target universities, to look beyond the typical universities from which financial services recruit and attract different types of people with the right skills and talent who maybe haven’t even considered a career in finance. The Careers Day, now in its third year, has been very successful at attracting individuals like Michael and Stephanie (read their stories below) by introducing them to finance as a career option and providing senior mentorship on interview techniques and CV presentation to access employment. We all know that good interview technique makes a huge difference in landing a first job.
Senan Kiran: Individuals who care about D&I can help mentor undergrads on ELFA’s panels, working alongside HR professionals to share their advice to young people. We would hugely appreciate more involvement from individual members and frankly, we need you.
And for member firms, we ask you to share or create internships to widen access for successful candidates coming through the ELFA Career Day.
Aaiza Ali We are handing over the reins to new co-chairs Anita Isichei and Irem Sukan to take things forward. It’s worth remembering that when we set up the committee, diversity was not a priority in the workplace, fortunately COVID was a catalyst for D&I and companies now understand the many benefits of nurturing a diversity of talent to survive and thrive in today’s business environment. I think D&I is becoming a critical driver of business success and this presents exciting opportunities for the new co-chairs.
D&I Success stories
Michael Damoah - ELFA Research Analyst “I’d never seriously considered a career in finance until the ELFA Career Day in 2021”
I was undecided about my career path during my final year as an undergraduate at Sheffield University. I'd always been interested in business and economics, but because I was studying for a social sciences degree, I didn't think finance was an option. I learned about ELFA Career Day from a friend who worked at one of our member firms. ELFA Career Day opened my eyes to the possibilities of a career in leveraged finance. It gave me a lot of confidence to hear first-hand from individuals within the industry who came from a humanities background.
Following the event, I enrolled at the LSE for a Masters and was accepted. And I was fortunate to join ELFA as a research analyst in 2022, where I assisted the co-chairs of several committees, working on exciting projects with the best minds in the leveraged finance industry. ELFA has provided me with the ideal springboard for furthering my career in the financial sector and I am currently looking for opportunities as an investment/credit analyst with a focus on the ESG space. My experience at ELFA has been a great start to my career.
Stephanie Deans – Analyst at Barings “I found the ELFA Careers Day incredibly insightful, particularly having a non-finance background at university and not knowing anyone who worked in the industry.”
When I was at university I wanted to attend as many events as possible to try to learn more about the broader careers within finance and make sure I was putting my best foot forward. This Career Day allowed me to do just that.
It was a great opportunity to have a full day to hear panels, obtain feedback on my CV from an HR recruiter in a small group and to practice interview questions directly with senior finance professionals who regularly interview graduates. The day was a lot more productive than the 1-hour sessions typically offered to graduates by university career services.
I already knew I wanted to work in investing due to previous internships in equity research and sales and trading, but it was very helpful in making me more informed about a career in private market investments which was harder to get useful, practical information on. It was during the CV workshop that I met an HR representative from Barings who explained what skills they look for and when I followed up, which positions were on offer at Barings that would be most suited to my strengths and interests. I then applied to Barings and was accepted for a role in Infrastructure Private Credit as an analyst where I have been working for the last 5 months.
I would recommend this event to any student regardless of what you are studying or what area of finance you think you are interested. Hearing differing perspectives from experienced and knowledgeable people who have built amazing careers and being able to directly ask them questions was so helpful for me. I am grateful to all the professionals who took the time to take part in the day.
We need your help at our Career Day on March 9th
Please get involved with the D&I committee if you would like to be a mentor on a panel coaching undergrads and please share any openings your firm has for internships.