Mia Prkusic, CFA
Fund Manager Fixed Interest, Investment Management
ANZ Wealth 

Mia volunteers for CFA Society New Zealand as Vice Chair for University Outreach


Tell us about your experience of lockdown 
Seven years into my career in financial markets, I had heard many war stories from colleagues internally and externally in industry, but you don’t quite appreciate what it means to be an asset manager in that environment until you have some war stories of your own. But also, this crisis is a shock to the economy more sudden and severe than anyone has ever experienced before. For many, the Great Recession is the closest analogue but the nature of that downturn was very different. It wasn’t a purposeful freezing of economic activity in order to slow a public health crisis. The last few weeks have been incredibly stimulating, trying to keep on top of incredibly fast news flow and trying to position portfolios to best weather this storm.

It’s been amazing to watch how quickly businesses and households have adapted to the new normal in very creative ways. Products and services have been redesigned, and new ones created to respond to the demands of millions of people self-isolating around the world. There has been quite a shift in the way in which ANZ operates as well. Well before lockdown, we put a few measures in place. At the outset of the crisis, each team was split across two floors to reduce contact as a good risk management practice. We also had excellent IT support to get fully set up at home with multiple external monitors. It then meant that once lockdown started, we had two safe working options – either being at home, or safely distanced in the office. I have definitely missed interactions with the wider team but we have a number of great communication tools that make it easier.

What are some of your career highlights so far?
What I love most about my job is that it has such an impact on the wellbeing of our investors. In that vein, seeing us top of the leaderboard in the recent MJW report, in a time of real stress, made me very proud for what we have achieved, even more so after being approached by a counterparty who happens to invest with us, thanking us for our performance (before even seeing the results announcement). I am also very proud that we have stuck by our investment philosophy throughout the full cycle, which is now reaping rewards.

What do you like most about your job/industry?
There are a few things that make this job special. Firstly, you’re at the epicentre of global events; from politics to extreme weather, anything that affects markets and their behaviour is relevant to our work. And no two days are the same because every day something’s happening which influences the way people invest. The second thing is that you get to interact with very experienced and talented people. And thirdly, in this job you’re in the privileged position of being able to act on your own views about the world through the portfolios of investments you manage. It’s a very rewarding career, and there’s never a limit to how much you can learn.

What are your interests outside work?
My free time over the last year was largely consumed by property hunting for my first home! Having ticked that milestone, I spend a lot of my weekends in the outdoors on long walks and enjoying Auckland’s foodie scene with friends.

Make a prediction for 2024
The focus on sustainability is here to stay, and the COVID-19 pandemic has only highlighted the impact of our actions on the ecological landscape around us. Researchers around the world have seen a drop in air pollutants as a result of fewer cars on the road and exhaust from factories due to the shelter-in-place orders issued by world governments. Some places in the world have experienced the best air quality in decades. While scientists warn that air quality will likely take a hit once shelter-in-place orders are lifted, the temporary change in the environment could spur more demanding environmental regulations and policies.

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