How FIA's Walt Lukken is still working

Part of an FIA series on people in the derivatives industry adapting to coronavirus challenges

8 June 2020


Walt Lukken, President and CEO of FIA

Walt Lukken
Walt Lukken, President and CEO of FIA, in his home office (and laundry room).

What’s one significant way coronavirus has affected your work? 

An important part of my job at FIA is visiting with members at meetings and conferences. Since the shelter-in-place policy has limited those interactions, I am more structured in connecting with FIA members. Same with FIA staff as there are no longer “water cooler” moments that connect us. Ironically, virtual meetings and video chats allow me to see people in their home environment and gives conversations a real sense of intimacy. It has been a connecting experience. 

What’s a typical day like for you right now as we “shelter in place”?  

I wear a tie everyday (except casual home Fridays) to keep some semblance of a routine.  My staff poke fun at me, but it’s my thing! Every day starts with a 30-minute huddle meeting between senior staff on video conference to discuss the day’s priorities. Because we are covering the U.S., Europe and Asia time zones, we start by wishing each other a good morning, afternoon and evening. That kicks off 8 hours of Microsoft Teams meetings on priorities for the organization, including frequent updates for the FIA board and executive committee. A huge side benefit of working from home is having lunch with my family as well as walks in the evening with my wife … with masks of course.

What’s something that has given you hope for the future after this pandemic?

I have been amazed by the enormous demand for futures and other cleared derivatives to manage risk during the crisis.  Our industry traded a record 11 billion contracts in the first quarter. Despite this volume, the markets have been incredibly resilient. The clearing system is working as intended, minimizing the counterparty risk that we witnessed during the crisis of 2008.  There will be time for lessons learned after this is over, but I am proud I work in an industry that is needed in times of stress and has delivered as billed.

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