Nobody sweats the details better than Anthony Castelli.
Penserra’s Chief Compliance Officer since 2008, Anthony is charged not only with dotting every “i” and crossing every “t,” but also with ensuring Penserra’s 80+ employees perform their duties within the guardrails of a complicated network of regulatory guidelines. Supervising operations also falls within Anthony’s scope, and rare is the trade Penserra’s back office can’t settle.
Q: You joined Penserra in February 2008, which makes you employee #3. What made you want to take the plunge and join a financial start-up in the middle of the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression?
A: Our CEO, George Madrigal, had a very clear and compelling vision of what he was looking to build. That vision afforded me the opportunity to build out a compliance and operational program with the level of detail and structure that I would want to work under. So though the environment was challenging, the opportunity was tremendous.
Q: One of Penserra’s strongest assets in its early years was its ability to efficiently settle trades, a critical issue for asset managers to consider when doing business with a young broker-dealer. What policies and procedures did you put in place to ensure Penserra’s smooth operational strategy?
A: The main philosophy is to treat every customer trade with the same level of scrutiny and detail you would want for your own personal account. That philosophy continues to this day with the goal of determining potential issues and solving them without the need for the client to intervene.
Q: A Penserra transition management client wishes to buy a basket of emerging market stocks and needs to prefund the trade. They also need to open new accounts in India and Taiwan. The transaction also involves restricted currencies that can only be traded by a custodian, sometimes on settlement date. How does Penserra pull this off?
As our world continues to seemingly shrink and access to more foreign markets becomes commonplace it is imperative for a firm to have the expertise to facilitate the client’s requirements. The firm does this in three ways. The first is through experience. Penserra was a global firm from the very start when its first ever order was in European equity. As such, our staff has the knowledge and experience of handling settlements in a wide variety of markets. The second is keeping updated on market and regulatory changes across the globe, which becomes an exercise in diligence. Lastly, it is choosing the right local partner in each region whose business ethic and culture match your own.