Anita Panchmatia has been with Bank of America’s e-commerce department since 2014 and is at the forefront of fast-paced innovations in market technology. Using data science and artificial intelligence, Anita is helping build a smarter electronic trading platform for global equities and Fixed Income, Currencies and Commodities (FICC).
Recognized by The Sunday Times / Management Today’s list of “35 Women Under 35” excited us to sit down with Anita to learn about her career path at Bank of America, the importance of being a specialist versus a generalist, and why now It’s time to join the financial services industry.
How would you describe your role?
I work in the electronic commerce business, a rapidly changing and innovative area that is on the cutting edge of commerce. My job is to work on product development opportunities that will drive business and improve customer offerings through the use of new technologies and FinTech solutions. I mainly work on large-scale initiatives that span global markets and work closely with our technology and quant partners, as well as our control partners worldwide.
How has technology affected your roles throughout your career? How important is technology to your role today?
Today, technology is an integral part of my role and the most exciting aspect of building electronic trading platforms. I work with FinTech partners who innovate everywhere from trading venues to customer chatbots. We use data science and artificial intelligence to make our trading strategies smarter. E-commerce is an increasingly competitive and rapidly developing area and technology is a real differentiator.
I studied computer science at the University of Warwick, which anchored me in systems engineering and prepared me well for my early roles in technology. My ability to move seamlessly between technical and business areas led to product roles in sales teams and in the main office. The combination of technical and customer-oriented roles at the beginning of my career positioned me very well for my current role.
I began my career in electronic trading technology at JP Morgan Chase before moving to Private Wealth Management at Goldman Sachs.
How has being a woman in finance and technology affected your career?
I appreciated the opportunity to dispel the myth that finance is not a woman-friendly domain. Being a woman is part of who I am, as is being a woman, a mother and a British Indian. None of these traits limited my ability to progress. In my experience, a career in the city is a tremendous reward for anyone with talent and drive, regardless of gender, ethnicity, or background.
I was able to share this perspective with younger experts during my two years as the regional chairwoman of the women’s network at BofA. I continue to support and mentor women and support their professional development.
What challenges did you face during your career and how did you approach them?
At the beginning of my career, I worked in private banking and market business in New York and London with roles in technology and front office. I enjoyed the breadth and variety of the work, but developing a career plan and taking on more responsibility with such a broad experience base was a challenge. I was fortunate to find a sponsor – and a role model – to help me think more strategically about my career choices. This resulted in me building up expertise in a specific area, electronic commerce, which has been very satisfying and rewarding.
What steps can we as an industry take to improve the representation of women who choose to pursue careers in our field?
Many companies have entry-level programs that are characterized by the recruitment of a large number of different candidates, such as the BofA Females in Finance Insight program. However, as an industry, I think we can make better efforts to keep women at higher levels by implementing programs specifically designed to support and nurture female talent, such as BofA’s Global Women’s Executive Development Leadership Program. Our management team uses gender dashboards and works with an active Diversity & Inclusion Council to ensure greater representation of women at higher levels in the company.
What advice would you give young professionals who are trying to get into the capital markets?
Play to your strengths first. The capital markets are a broad field and can accommodate many interests and skills. So gather your energy to balance your job with your passion.
Second, skill. Technology has opened up a world of candidates. It is important to have the core technical competence to position yourself for success in a global market.
Third, the time is now. With the rise of FinTech, blockchain, robotics, AI, and sustainable finance, there are more opportunities than ever before. There has never been a more exciting time to work in financial services. So dream big.