A languages graduate from the University of Bristol, Rachael is fast-approaching her fifth year at RBC Europe where she now leads the investment grade Sterling credit trading pod, having joined the desk from the graduate programme in 2014.
Rachael Coomber
Rachael Coomber
RBC

Within six months of joining the Credit desk Rachael had begun to forge relationships with top tier clients; had carved out a profitable trading book; and, had become integral to the Credit team where she continues to develop her own skill-set while encouraging like-minded young men and women to take up the challenge. She is now a Top 5 market-maker in the Sterling denominated investment grade corporate space, striving to uphold and promote RBC’s leading credit franchise, while also being a mentor to female students through RBC’s Academy, Summer Analyst and Graduate programmes.

Rachael has been nominated and shortlisted for the WIBF 2018 Rising Star Award.

Tell us about your day to day role

My day-to-day role is multi-faceted; a real mixture of analysis, communication and risk-taking where my primary focus is to facilitate client needs in the secondary credit market while generating revenue for the RBC shareholder. Sometimes it can be a challenge to strike a balance between these two goals, but with RBC’s ‘client first’ culture my role really centers on providing trade ideas and, consequently, the market liquidity that will allow our investors to optimize their portfolios and maximize their returns. Our client base is largely made up of UK Real Money accounts – pension funds, insurance funds and asset managers – who I deal with both directly and indirectly on a daily basis.

How does it feel to be on the WIBF Awards for Achievement Shortlist?

Empowering.

I had the privilege of attending the WIBF Awards event last year and remember feeling an overwhelming sense of pride and admiration for the community of women who surrounded me. For the challenges they had overcome, for the irrepressible ambition they had shown and for the examples that they were able to set to those young women – of which I was one - who might wonder ‘Can I really do this?’

To be shortlisted for the Rising Star award brings back that sense of pride, it is the collective response ‘Yes you can!’ that we have all needed to hear at some point, and it reassures me that from hard work will come recognition and support, irrespective of gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity or religion.

As a young woman in such a male dominated environment and one who is relatively inexperienced compared to other traders, what advice would you have for young women starting out today?

Believe in yourself. A woman who is confident in her ability, motivated to succeed and aware of her value within a team, firm and industry will ultimately find the fact that it’s a male-dominated environment of little relevance to her career progression. At a time where there is a greater emphasis on diversity than ever, seize the opportunity to change the status quo by becoming a role model to others, don’t allow yourself to be pigeon-holed by the notion of a ‘more female’ role, and see your ‘minority’ status as a chance to send a very clear message. See it as an exciting challenge rather than an intimidating obstacle.

When was a time you were out of your comfort zone and how did it ultimately help you?

There is no comfort zone! As a trader you encounter continuously evolving scenarios, challenges, complexities and dynamics on an almost hourly basis. Whether it is responding to a client enquiry, researching a new issuer, reacting to a market-moving news headline or creating and maintaining a relationship with a dealer, fund manager or sales person there is never a moment where you are not pushed to a new limit however big or small that may be. When you first start out, working in such a fast-paced environment can very much be a case of ‘sink or swim’ but, for me, it has helped me become the woman I am today: resilient, decisive and more courageous than I ever thought I could be.

How can we get the biggest shift towards diverse and inclusive workplaces?

Quotas and rhetoric, while important, can be seen as a ‘quick-fix’ to the issue of diversity across industries. For a real shift towards equal opportunity, we need a pervasive change in societal perceptions of gender that will start from the roots and fight its way into workplaces nationally and internationally. Education is a good place to start in terms of empowering young women to disregard historical ‘norms’. I was lucky enough to attend a school where frequent ‘Women in Leadership’ events broke down these barriers at an early age and provided undeniable proof that we could excel in whichever field we so chose: law, medicine, arts, finance, engineering, teaching and so on. This message was key.

At RBC, in terms of attracting female talent, recent visits from the likes of Watford Girls School and UCL Academy, as well as initiatives such as the ‘Empowering Women Spring Insight Day,’ all serve to make our industry far more identifiable and accessible to young women, while within the workplace, strong female role models and supportive employee groups such as RWomen are essential to fostering a diverse and inclusive working environment.

Tell us something about yourself you think people would find surprising?

I am very much a water baby! Having been on the water in dinghies, catamarans and kayaks from the age of five, after finishing school I became a qualified sailing instructor and took six months to teach the sport on the Ionian island of Lefkada, Greece. While that now feels like a world away, I still return every year to get out in the sunshine and back on the water!