In this series, members of the Cerno team reflect on the crisis and provide detail on their work and domestic lives.
For our next interview, we caught up with Jeny Zhu, Head of China Investment and Senior Fund Accountant, to hear how her role has had to adapt to challenges presented by the crisis, and what has kept her busy at home.
Jeny, in one sentence please could you sum up your role at Cerno Capital.
I work as the Senior Fund Accountant at Cerno, and my job involves many different functions. On any one day I might be working on fund factsheet production, accounting, trading, maintaining and developing counterparty relationships, client reporting as well as other adhoc work.
You are also Head of China Investment at Cerno Capital. Have you seen any changes in Chinese investors during this time?
I’ve seen a change in mindset towards investment through my discussions with a few potential Chinese investors based in the UK and overseas. Many Chinese investors value the importance of wealth preservation more as a result of the pandemic and economic downturn; they would prefer to have their money managed by professionals instead of self-trading within their accounts, particularly given the volatile market we experienced in the last few months. The strong performances of our portfolios – particularly our Global Leaders and Pacific strategies – have also made us more appealing as a manager to these types of investors.
How have you found staying in touch with your colleagues during this time?
We have pretty much relied on Microsoft Teams and emails – modern technology has made it easy for us to work from home, and I can get instant responses from colleagues through calls and team chats, although it’s still not quite the same as sitting in the office with everyone. I imagine if we would have to go through lockdown in the old days, it would have been much harder to stay connected and work from home.
Favourite new addition to your routine since working from home?
Since the lockdown began, we have been holding a daily update via Microsoft Teams call for the whole firm to start the day. Colleagues in different teams give updates on markets, stocks within the portfolios and client correspondences. I like this new routine as it keeps me up to speed with different areas of the business.
The other addition I do enjoy are the regular webinars we have been hosting for our clients, counterparties and friends of the firm. It has been a great way to learn about our strategies directly from the portfolio managers, as well as the inside stories and life experience from some of our Investment Advisory Committee members which I found fascinating!
Besides that, I have also been enjoying webinars provided by other institutions as everything is moved online and has become more accessible. It’s interesting to see how the topics of these calls shifted from initially being focussed on scientific research to now focussing on economic recovery as we muddle through the pandemic.
What have you been doing to keep fit? Have you discovered a new form of exercise?
I have been doing more regular exercises since the lockdown and I really enjoy online fitness videos, there are so many different channels to choose from and I could never get bored of them! Running is another exercise that I started doing more regularly thanks to the outdoor exercise allowance during lockdown as all the gyms are closed. I have discovered new places I have never been in my local area through my daily running routine. As each day gets longer, outdoor exercises is becoming easier and I’ve noticed a surge in number of people running and cycling outdoors in the last few months which is always encouraging.
How have you managed to keep in touch with friends and family?
My family and many of my friends are living in China where the pandemic started, therefore I heard the first-hand experience of a lockdown. I remember I was overwhelmed when I heard their story back in February and I felt lucky to be away from the epicentre. I could never have imagined that only a few weeks down the line we were experiencing the same thing in the UK, if not worse.
I have been having more Zoom/video/phone calls with my friends and family since the start of the lockdown and it’s easier to arrange such calls nowadays as everyone is at home! I’ve also been enjoying a few picnics in various parks in London in the last few weeks when meeting outdoors was allowed – the only challenge was finding toilets after a few drinks in the park!
Will you manage your day differently if/when things return to normal? How?
I think I will appreciate outdoor exercise more and try to cycle and run more often when the weather is nice. The air quality in London has improved a lot since the start of the lockdown and I wish it would stay that way. I would consider commuting from work by bike when things return to normal, especially as the government is planning to increase cycle lanes throughout the city which is definitely a welcome decision.