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Career Insights: Shaped by the financial crisis, millennial bond manager readies for rate hike
Andrew Szczurowski is the new breed of bond manager: For the bulk of his career, interest rates have hovered near zero.
Szczurowski is one of many millennials who came charging onto Wall Street just as the markets crested, joining Eaton Vance in 2007 after two years at BNY Mellon. Mortgages, of course, were ground zero for the crisis. Szczurowski, who is about to take over as sole portfolio manager for the Eaton Vance Government Obligations Fund and Eaton Vance Short Duration Government Income Fund, says he was clueless on just how bad things were. “I didn’t realize the financial system was [so close] to being on the edge of a cliff.” In retrospect he says he should have been a lot more scared.
Before he joined Eaton Vance, Szczurowski thought bonds were pretty, well, boring. In college he traded stocks, where most kids thought they saw the real action. “People kind of think of the bond market as the blah market,” he says. Little did he know about the complexity of bonds until he read Michael Lewis’s first bestseller “Liar’s Poker.” The high jinx tales of bond trading at Salomon Brothers, once a fearsome competitor on Wall Street, made Szczurowski think: Maybe bonds are sexy too
Starting a career with the financial crisis was anything but dull. Seeing “a lifetime of finance events in the first years of [his] career,” didn’t turn Szczurowski off the industry. Today the University of New Hampshire graduate is a portfolio manager on the Eaton Vance global income team, focused on the villains of the meltdown: mortgage-backed securities.
Is Szczurowski ready for the first rate hike of his career as a manager? Definitely. “We’ve been in an extraordinarily accommodative Fed policy,” he says. But now “there’s not bullets left in the gun for the Fed to protect us” when the next recession hits. “They’re so concerned about spooking the markets…but at some point you just need to see that some of the uncertainties…is causing some of this volatility.”