Jasmit Bhandal is Vice President – Head of ETF Product Strategy & Development, Invesco Canada. She started her career in the market data department of the Toronto Stock Exchange and has risen the ranks to product development at Invesco. Part of the team that launched Colombia’s second ETF she’s passionate about how ETFs can help investors, but dubious that there is ever a perfect work life balance.

“Be in the industry because you love it, not just for the growth, the products can do a huge amount for investors and that should be at the forefront.”

Jobs in ETFs: How did you get into ETFs – was it a logical choice or a chance decision?

Jasmit Bhandal: I started working at the Toronto Stock Exchange in the data department and there I learnt about capital markets and market data. I was lucky enough to be there when S&P came to do their first exchange deal and had interactions with their index division.

They offered me a job in their first regional office where I was able to learn all the facets of indexing including back-testing, corporate action research, institutional clients, product development for new indexes, and so on.

JiE: What core values have helped take you to where you are today?

Jasmit: Alongside core values of diligence and integrity, I would say that ETFs have been a market disruptor, and this is something I feel very closely connected to. I am a minority and a woman, so often find I am on my own in a room full of majority. It has meant I’ve had to speak up.

JiE: How has being a woman and a minority shaped your career?

Jasmit: Being a minority and a woman gives me a different perspective and that adds value and helps create better outcomes for firms.

There have been times when I haven’t been encouraged to share my view. Through experience I’ve gained the confidence to speak out for what I believe in.

JiE: If you had to define culture at Invesco in one sentence what would that be?

Jasmit: It’s a culture that focuses on clients first and foremost. We are always looking for the best solutions for our clients.

JiE: Staying happy and positive at work – any secrets you can share?

Jasmit: I think what you do in your spare time can really shape how you feel and perform at work. New experiences, spending time with family, engaging in hobbies mean that you’re then able to give your all to work.

JiE: ETF inspirations – a person, a product or a moment that left a mark?

Jasmit: Being part of a group that launched the second ETF in Colombia was a big thing. It’s a very different market and a nascent industry there. Learning the social norms, cultures and getting the balance right was a great challenge which we learned from to be able to achieve what we set out to do.

JiE: What do you look for in a team member, in the people that you hire?

Jasmit: It’s not easy to know you’re hiring the right person, but I want to see a genuine passion for ETFs. I have asked candidates questions about their favourite ticker to determine whether they’re genuinely interested.

Other than that, I’d want them to have a deep analytical ability and generally be very curious.

JiE: What has been the biggest challenge of your career?

Jasmit: Being a minority and a woman I was reluctant to put myself forward unless I thought I could be perfect.I put that pressure on myself.I realize now that this has meant some missed opportunities. I think I’ve learned to give myself the benefit of the doubt when these occasions arise.

JiE: Are there any female peers you look up to?

Jasmit: Women in ETFs has been a great body for networking and discussing issues relevant to the industry. It’s a great facilitator for women to get exposure and see what their peers are doing.

I have been really lucky and have had some brilliant female bosses. My early bosses in the industry were largely female and I was the beneficiary of much mentoring from them. I credit my first boss in the industry for giving me the confidence to tackle anything.

My boss now is a strong female and I look up to what she has accomplished.

JiE: What is the greatest challenge on the horizon for ETFs and what are you most excited about for the ETF community?

Jasmit: Canadian ETFs are vast and our job now is to continually create products that matter and give investors value.

The ETF market is very exciting. It’s still in relatively early days and there is a lot of growth left to come. We see more people understanding the value of ETFs and that’s a good thing.

JiE: What advice would you give to people starting out in the ETF industry today?

Jasmit: Learn as much as you can. It never stops. Learn the technical nuances of it, the products, indexing and all the elements.

Be in the industry because you love it, not just for the growth, the products can do a huge amount for investors and that should be at the forefront.

Ask questions like does the product offer enough value to the investor and how does it fit into their overall investment approach.

JiE: Do you see real change in terms of equality in the workplace or is the pace of change too slow?

Jasmit: I see increasing diversity in the Canadian ETF market, but generally in finance less so. Change is always slow. We should, however, be encouraged that the conversations are happening.

JiE: Tell us about what you are passionate about outside work, your involvement with Give Back Group for example.

Jasmit: I feel very fortunate and I want to be able to give something back. Some peers in financial services and I set up Give Back Group. We pick a charity and hold an event to raise proceeds for it.

JiE: What is work-life balance for you and how do you achieve it?

Jasmit: I’m not sure I totally believe it’s possible to have work life balance. I think there are always imbalances and we spend time trying to correct them, adjusting to whoever needs you the most. It can’t always work perfectly, there are always ways to make it better.

In my spare time I like to ski, read and learn new things – at the moment it’s the piano!