Leading ladies of the FX industry: Meet Esther Lee, Compliance Officer at CFH
Senior positions within the electronic trading industry combine excitement, cutting edge technology and great responsibility. Based in Singapore, Esther Lee, Compliance Officer at CFH details her illustrious career, expertise in global business and the important considerations that are instrumental to today’s highly advanced regulatory environment
Electronic trading is a very modern, highly sophisticated and fast-moving business which continues to attract urbane and astute talent across all sectors from experts in specific niches that provide services from cutting-edge digital marketing initiatives, to automated strategies, interactive education packages, ever-evolving retail trading platforms and of course, the brokerages themselves.
Along with the modernity of this industry is the complete lack of a metaphorical glass ceiling therefore without boundaries, it is very much an environment which encourages free thought, innovation and ultimately career mobility in the upward direction for those with a driving ambition.
Among today’s young executives, gender equality is also a sign of the modernity of the business, which has its roots, especially in the retail sector, in the early 2000s, and although very highly developed and global, is a fledgling compared to the hierarchical and rigid world of traditional finance.
The ability to move forward very quickly is part of the appeal, and indeed, has given rise to some highly successful leaders many of whom are ladies, hence FinanceFeeds decided to take a look at what motivates today’s successful women in the FX industry and what has led them this far.
The very lifeblood of the electronic capital markets industry can be found within the specialist institutional liquidity and technology providers, and today we speak in detail to Esther Lee, whose illustrious and senior level career has led to her top position at CFH, where she is Compliance Officer
With a degree in Banking and Finance and previously a Compliance Manager in Edelweiss Investment Advisors Pte Ltd and now a Director at CFH the institutional liquidity and prime of prime brokerage company, which is one of the largest financial technology (FinTech) companies to have come out of Scandinavia and is part of the publicly listed Playtech Group. Whilst CFH may well have its origins in Denmark, today it is one of the key corporations among London’s giants.
Based at the company’s Singapore headquarters, its parent company having concentrated all of its financial services and electronic trading business at the prestigious Broadgate Tower in the heart of Central London’s financial district, Esther holds a highly important position within the company with regard to the increasingly complex and technology-driven area of regulatory compliance, maintaining the standard with regard to the company’s regulatory responsibilities when providing liquidity, technology and prime brokerage services to retail FX brokerages, hedge funds and institutions.
How did you get into the FX industry and where did it all start?
As a fresh graduate, I started my career in a bank as a junior officer without a clue what I really wanted to do. Never did I expect that through the course of my work, this would spark into a passion for Compliance work in Finance industry. At that point in time, my role was not a full-fledged Compliance role. With hard work and determination, I was very fortunate to land a Compliance role and be given the opportunity to further develop my career.
What was your journey like to get to where you are today?
It is a journey full of challenges and I have my mentors to thank for where I am today. Regulations are constantly evolving which means I have to be constantly be in the know, which allows me to introduce preventive measures and protect the business from breaches. I keep myself updated routinely on industry practices to understand how my peers are managing risk. Although it is hard work, it is very fulfilling to see the business flourish as a result of the safeguards I have set in place.
What are your views on the women within the financial services industry?
In recent years, the number of women in financial services have increased steadily and some of them have managed to attain positions in the C-suite within their companies. Companies are also more committed to gender diversity these days. Despite this progress, I feel there is still a lot of work to do before we can achieve gender equality in the financial services industry.
I believe us, as women need to be open-minded about our career paths and be willing to take calculated risks. The willingness to move into new countries, businesses and roles will endow us with multiple experiences and core skills. These experiences and skills are what is necessary to push for the next promotion or job opportunity. We need to be confident and share our views with our peers and superiors. It is important that we make our voice heard.
Research has demonstrated by bringing more women into the financial sector at all levels (both in the c-suite and at the entry level), companies can become more diverse, more financially stable, better at risk management, more socially conscious, and ultimately more profitable. Adding women to the mix is vital for the financial success of both the future of business and the global economy.
Tell us a little about yourself. What are some of the things you enjoy outside of work?
Outside of work, I spend a bulk of my time with my family attending church. I have also developed a strong interest in gardening over these few years! I plant my own vegetables and harvest them to cook for my family. I love to cook and bake for my husband as he is my greatest fan. He loves to eat the things I cook and always offer new ideas to improvise on my menu.
One word that describes you?
Tenacious. I always have a never-say-die attitude. As long as I set my mind to complete something, I will do it and reach there!
Why have you chosen a path in Compliance and what attracted you to CFH in particular?
To be honest, after graduated, I did not know which career path to tread on. However, I was lucky to be given a chance to start a career in Compliance. it wasn’t a pure Compliance role but little did I know that it would spark the passion in Compliance.
In my previous role, I have mastered products in Securities, Futures, Custodial Services and Fund Management. CFH offers a unique opportunity for me to learn about OTC Derivatives and Spot Leveraged Products. This decision is driven by my interest to understand how different products are being handled and the regulatory landscape for each product. I believe the knowledge and experience I will come to gain in CFH will serve me well for my future ahead in Compliance.