Fixed Income  

“Fixed income can play a role in creating income for people”

Chris Iggo’s career has taken him across the Atlantic to New York and back, and from a trading floor to behind the desk at an asset manager.

Now he is chief investment officer of fixed income at Axa Investment Managers (Axa IM), after joining the organisation back in 2005.

What inspired Mr Iggo’s subsequent career was his first job straight out of university at the Economist Intelligence Unit, where he focused on emerging market countries at a time when the Latin American debt crisis was unfolding.

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“So I was really interested in how developing economies were interacting with the global economy and the problems that they had, and how they kept going from one crisis to another,” he recalls.

“I did my masters degree part time while I was still working at the Economist Intelligence Unit and focused heavily on developing countries, their growth models and the sustainability of debt.”

It was while he was there that a role to join the economics team at Chase Manhattan Bank (as it was then) came up, looking at country credit risk.

He continues: “But then being in a bank environment towards the end of the 1980s, early 1990s, things started to change and I got dragged into the Treasury function and foreign exchange and I went off on that path for a while. So I was a foreign exchange economist.

“Then I was transferred to New York in 1992 where I worked for Chase on the trading floor as the trading desk economist, primarily for the foreign exchange business but also for the bond business.”

Mr Iggo stayed in New York for six years in total, moving to Barclays Capital when it was under Bob Diamond’s reign. He was hired as the bank’s chief economist in the US, but for personal reasons he did not want to stay on in New York and moved back to the UK, remaining at Barclays Capital.

Having a career that has straddled New York and London, Mr Iggo is well positioned to consider how the two cities compare as global financial centres. He says: “I think over 20 years they have kind of converged. I would say that the US is still a bit more parochial, whereas London is much more international.

“Although the bond market is massive, the equity culture certainly dominates the media coverage of financial markets in the US. There is a real culture of trying to grow your savings through equities, whereas bonds are seen [as being] for big institutions.”

In 2000, Mr Iggo was approached to join Cazenove Fund Management, where he became responsible for running the firm’s investment strategy.

The role involved “moving from the sell side to the buy side and that’s when I really became much more involved in the investment decision-making process,” he explains. “So I was running investment strategy for Cazenove, which was a lot about asset allocation between equities and bonds, designing private client portfolios, and doing the macro analysis as well.”