Volodymyr Gubskyi is the Co-Founder & CEO at IVM Markets, an independent platform providing direct access to structured product investment content.
To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your career background and current role?
Throughout my career, I’ve been focused on making investing more available to everyone and more personalised. I first learned about structured products when I was studying at the London School of Economics.
A trader from a bulge bracket bank led a seminar, and even though there were only 5 people there, I was fascinated. I discovered that as an investor, you don’t have to buy the whole investment product if there are parts you don’t like. You can pick and choose and add the parts you do want. And today it’s a $7tn market which is larger than ETFs and hedged funds together and growing at 30% per year.
So, my goal became to let people design their own investment products while still going to bulge bracket banks to make the actual investment. I got lots of experience working with derivatives and special investment solutions at top banks like Merrill Lynch, RBS, and Deutsche Bank.
My co-founder Ildar and I started IVM Markets (where I am CEO) because we saw that structured products had the potential to be the perfect way for people to invest in a way that’s tailored to their needs.
But, we were frustrated by how a few bulge bracket banks controlled the content of these products and made them all the same. So, we’re changing the finance industry by giving people the power to design their own structured products, while still going to bulge bracket banks to invest.
What does a day in your life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?
At our current stage, we spend the majority of our time talking to customers and building out the product.
A typical day is 6.45am wake up and get my 1-year-old son up and ready and spend some quality time. This puts the day into a positive motivation spiral. From 7.45 am onwards I have an agile approach to the day. I have my key focus areas, but the order depends on what’s most optimal at the time.
Focus areas are:
- Clients, their usage this week and any constructive feedback. Brainstorm with the tech team how we can optimise and maximise the client’s experience.
- New clients in the pipeline. Brainstorm with the sales team what it would take to close the deals.
- New ideas for developing the product in line with our long-term vision. I spend a lot of time on exploration outside of our firm. I believe that for startups (which are inherently small by the number of people) it’s critical to maximise the contact with the world outside of the firm to get the best vision of where the world is going and where we are going.
- Networking and idea exchange is critical. Need to be able to tap into the global consciousness. This creates time.
- Any strategic partnerships that we may benefit from.
What does work-life balance mean to you and how do you work to achieve that goal?
I believe in having all the activities in my life mix organically. Meaning that I don’t think about work and life. I think about life. There are a certain number of hours available during the week. And I allocate these hours in an agile manner to be able to do everything I want to do.
It is possible to achieve your goals, while at the same time for example going on a 3-hour hike in the mountains or being in another country for a few weeks and working remotely. Also, research shows that radically changing the type of activity you do improves productivity.
Let’s say you had some heavy-duty sprints this week to build out the product and to progress some clients and you reached certain milestones. Diverting your attention for some time to an alternative activity (the more different the better) allows the mind some time to systematise the information and arrive at some conclusions.
This normally results in some breakthrough ideas for the following sprint. I am constantly looking for radically better ways to do things, which in itself creates more time.
In the past 12 months, have you started or stopped any routines or habits to change your life?
Get my son up and ready first thing in the morning and spend some quality time with him to set the tone for the day. Using social media is a massive time creator. I found recently that for structured products there is a large audience on LinkedIn and Twitter. So this creates time because in 1 click I can reach a large audience with our vision.
Do you have any favourite books, podcasts or newsletters that you’d like to recommend?
I read many biographies and mix those up with totally unrelated fiction. I like the contrast. Don’t have favourites per se but here is a sample of those I like. Tony Hsieh: Delivering Happiness, Peter Thiel: Zero to One, Rebecca Serle: In Five Years, Neil Chenoweth: The Untold Story of the World’s Greatest Media Wizard, Alan Sugar: What You See Is What You Get, Truman Capote: Summer Crossing.
If you could read an interview about work-life balance by anyone, who would that be?
Tony Hsieh and Alan Sugar.
Do you have any last thoughts on work, life or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?
At some point a while back, I learned Japanese as a pilot project for 1 month after visiting Japan and being mesmerised by their culture. Normally the alphabet takes 1 year to learn (both hiragana and katakana). I found a resource that enabled me to learn both alphabets in 2 hours through visual associations. I think that it’s important to create time, rather than to have to balance it.
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