Chris Perkins, Managing Director, Global Head of OTC Clearing and Foreign Exchange Prime Brokerage, Citi
What is one way that the coronavirus has affected your work?
The good news is that the coronavirus has not affected our goals or priorities. As leaders, our priorities have always been laser focused on our people and on our clients. Despite social distancing realities, I think that operating during the COVID-19 pandemic has actually brought us closer together as a team and in many ways, has given us an opportunity to partner more closely with our clients. You learn the most about your people during times of crisis, and working together to navigate the challenges of the current environment has reinforced just how blessed I am to work with such a talented, resilient and capable team.
What is a typical day like for you right now as we “shelter in place"?
With no commute to worry about, I have been trying to squeeze in some exercise before or after work. Early on, I joined a virtual cycling group with members of my team—this was an incredibly humbling experience. I hit the home office “desk” around 6:30 a.m. and then navigate whatever the market decides to throw at us. The remote office technology has been excellent, and the connectivity has been generally seamless. I make it a personal goal to reach out individually to every member of my global team each week--to connect on the human level. Sure, I miss walking down the row, jumping on airplanes and interacting with my colleagues and clients, but our focus on proactive communication and our strong technology foundation has really powered us through. At home, my wife and I try to balance the demands of our household as our children adapt to “virtual” school—I’ve been impressed by their resiliency, too. It’s been fantastic to have dinner together every night, and we even started a family book club.
What is something that has given you hope for the future after this pandemic?
I live close to NYC, in an area that was one of the global epicenters of the COVID-19 outbreak. I have seen the way our community has come together in the face of this human tragedy to demonstrate empathy, resilience and resolve. The courage demonstrated by our first responders, doctors, nurses, grocery clerks, delivery people, etc. gives me great inspiration, and I am confident that the human spirit will prevail. I am hopeful that our global community will come closer together to address the societal fissures that have been magnified by this crisis, and resist the malignant forces of misinformation, polarization and extremism that could have long lasting effects on our future. For our industry, though I believe that the COVID-19 volatility again validated the strength and resiliency of the central clearing paradigm, it also highlighted a number of pro-cyclical challenges that we will need to address as a community. I am hopeful that we can come together to solve this in a way that restores balance to the clearing ecosystem.