Peak performance

The 20th anniversary of the JSE’s Spire Awards recognised the contributions of capital market participants under a tough operating environment

Peak performance

Some 39 recipients were honoured at the 2021 JSE Spire Awards – which, says Udesh Moodley, Head of Bonds, Currencies and Interest Rates Derivatives at the JSE, ‘is a tribute to their fortitude in these difficult and volatile times’, referring specifically to the impacts of COVID and lockdown over the past two years. ‘During the initial onset of COVID-19 in 2020, we had seen significant panic and falls in volume, as well as trading activity, but we are beginning to see a return to normality, with activity reaching pre-pandemic levels’.

The 2021 JSE Spire Awards ceremony celebrated its 20th year on 31 March. Held virtually for the second year, across the broader financial ecosystem, it is considered one of the most successful finance-award ceremonies in SA, recognising accomplishments in the fixed-income and derivatives markets. It is largely acknowledged as the benchmark for SA markets, with votes cast by the largest of institutional investors.

Moodley confirms that the Spire Awards is a significant measure of performance, ‘more so because it gives the candidates an invaluable view of their performance versus that of their competitors’. The awards also form part of traders’ key performance measurements, in terms of their contributions to their relevant organisations. The votes, which are cast online, are verified by research consulting firm Intellidex, which was appointed by the JSE in 2018.

This year the most anticipated award, as it is every year, was that of Best Fixed-Income and Forex House, which was won by Rand Merchant Bank (RMB). ‘It was a very close competition, with RMB narrowly beating its two competitors, Absa CIB and Standard Bank,’ says Moodley.

RMB topped nine of the 39 categories, namely Best Bond House; Best Interest Rate Derivatives House; Best Market-Making Team: Interest-Rate Derivatives; Best Debt-Origination Team; Best Team: Inflation-Linked Bonds; Best Market-Making Team: Cash-Settled Commodity Derivatives; Best Market-Making Team: Interest-Rate Derivatives; Best Market-Making Team; and On-screen Listed FX Derivatives.

Absa CIB secured eight awards, including Best Research House; Best Sales Team: Interest-Rate Derivatives; Best Market-Making Team: FX Options; and Best Repo Team. The other four highlight how strong Absa CIB is in terms of research, having secured Best Research Team awards for Economics; Fixed Income; Forex; and Africa.

Standard Bank is notable because it improved its win rate by securing two additional titles over the five it won in 2020. Those awards are Best Forex House; Best Structuring Team: Fixed Income\Inflation\ Credit\FX; Best Structured Notes Issuer; Best Market-Making Team: FX and FX Futures; Best Team: Credit Bonds; Best Sales Team: FX and FX Derivatives; and Best Research Team: Credit.

Other awardees included CJS Securities, BVG Commodities, Robinson Milder De Waal Financial Services, Prescient Securities, Tradition, Peresec Derivatives, Avior Capital Markets, GFI and Nedbank.

‘These awards are taken extremely seriously in terms of representing the pinnacle of performance in the capital markets,’ says Moodley. ‘The Spire Awards is well attended by stakeholders, including traders, analysts, treasurers, executives and other senior financial market professionals across the broad financial-services industry, including banks, brokerages, state-owned companies and National Treasury.

‘This is the culmination of many hours of hard work and dedication by these talented and valued participants, who really highlight the key role that capital markets play in our country’s economic development.’

By Kerry Dimmer
Image: Gallo/Getty Images