Andrew Duffin

Societe Generale’s Andrew Duffin celebrates 30 years in the industry this year and has seen sweeping changes across many sectors.

Inducted: 2017
How much of your working life have you spent in securities services?

I’m actually celebrating two work anniversaries this year as I’ve been in the industry for 30 years and I’ve spent 10 of those at Societe Generale.

I was also involved in network management for many years before moves into the sales and relationship side of the business at Clearstream Banking before joining Societe Generale.

My first day in the industry was working for the Royal Bank of Scotland plc (RBS) in London on Monday 17 August 1987. This date is particularly relevant as the City of London was booming as it was post-big bang and then on Monday 19 October 1987 we had ‘Black Monday’ where markets across the world crashed.

Two months into a new job and I suddenly found myself dealing with a boom to crash situation.

How did you initially get into this industry?

It was really a chance remark at an interview at RBS in London, I was under the impression that I was being interviewed for a retail banking position and the interviewer described three or four divisions of RBS.

The last area he described was the stock department that went on to become the global custody department.

As it was the last division of RBS mentioned and the freshest in my mind, I expressed an interest in the stock department. Four weeks after this point, I found myself working in the securities services industry.

Had I expressed an interest in another division, we might not be having this conversation here today.

My first job at RBS was handwriting cheques to the brokers who came and physically delivered their stock to us every two weeks. Settlement in the UK then was every other Monday unless it was a bank holiday in which case it was a three-week cycle.

Have you brought any particular lessons from other experiences to your current role?

I would say that through my career I have been fortunate enough to visit over 50 different countries which has enabled me to have a strong appreciation of different working practices and cultures around the world.

I genuinely believe this has developed me as a person and helped me to bring success to my current role as I can appreciate different working ethics and values.

What kind of major industry changes have you seen during your career?

The industry has seen numerous changes during my career such as T2S and the impact of various regulations but the main change for me has been the dematerialisation of physical certificates that took place in the 1990s across a global scale.

Previously the industry used physical papers and then they were converted to digital registrars used by the CSDs.

At the time I was a network manager with responsibility for a number of emerging markets and this process could be incredibly complex and even the most developed markets had some spectacular failures.

This change meant the industry moved away from mountains of paper being kept inside warehouses and on the whole the move to a paperless environment was a huge success and, in my view, perfectly demonstrates the quality of the people in our industry and the service providers.

Look at the results of this process in today’s industry, you can now settle immediately and you are not waiting for couriers to deliver physical stock.

In your own career, what kinds of things have made a great day at the office?

Being in charge of client coverage, what makes a great day for me is receiving a phone call from a perspective client saying you have been successful in the RFP selection process.

What is more gratifying though is undertaking the first service review with the new client or meeting them for the first time and they tell you that they have made the right decision.

The people in our industry are undoubtedly one of the things I appreciate most as I’ve met some fantastic individuals, made some great friends and I count myself fortunate I can visit a whole host of countries around the world and arrange to meet someone I know.