· Features

Lessons from the C-suite: Nicolas Breteau, TP ICAP Group

“I am inspired by the people I work with”

Nicolas Breteau, CEO of TP ICAP Group discusses his career path, how he gets inspired and what he thinks an HR director should know.

I started out working for MATIF, the French Derivatives Exchange. It provided great training. I witnessed market globalisation, and the transition from open outcry markets, with thousands of runners and traders shouting at each other, to electronic platforms.

Making the move to the City in 1998 was the moment that everything clicked for me. I have learned new things every day in this incredible and fascinating industry ever since.

The best lesson I’ve learned is if you want to build a career at a company, push yourself to work in a wide variety of roles. It’s the best way to really understand a business and will give you hugely valuable insight as you step up into management roles.

My proudest professional achievement is becoming the CEO of TP ICAP Group. It’s an amazing business. We’re at the very epicentre of every global market, from interest rate swaps through to weather derivatives, and we work closely with clients, whether they’re looking to take a position, hedge a complex risk or find liquidity where no other broker can.

One of my worst mistakes was thinking that a really great idea was 90% of the work. A great idea needs buy-in, and an enormous amount of craftsmanship, to become a great product or a great service. 

I am inspired by the people I work with. Thinking ahead, fixing goals and achieving them as a team provides me with a sense of success, and allows me to look back and say: “We did that.”

Our biggest challenge is in finding, attracting, motivating and retaining the best people, as well as building the best technology to maximise our teams’ ability to solve clients’ challenges. The skills may change, the technology will certainly change, but the underlying challenge remains the same: can you give great people great tools to do great work?

I am collaborating with my HR director to build a stronger bench to deliver our strategy. Of course that means continuing to acquire high-calibre talent but, just as importantly, it means developing and retaining the great talent we already have. We are in the process of rolling out a new competency framework, which will better equip our people to develop their careers with TP ICAP.

We’re also focused on enhancing our external recruitment profile so talent who might not have thought of joining an inter-dealer broker will be curious and seek us out. We have some great opportunities and roles and we’re looking to attract people who want to work in fantastic, fast-paced environment, and really make a difference.

 A HR director needs to be more than a functional expert; they must develop a deep understanding of the business and wider industry so that they, and their teams, can truly be strategic partners.

Right now, I’m reading a French novel called The Ash Crosses. It’s set in 1348, with the Black Death having descended upon Europe. Mingling wars, inquisition, persecution and betrayals… it’s an exceptional book, an adventure novel and a historical fresco that studies medieval theology. It’s a spiritual and dramatic page turner.

My top leadership tip is to remain humble and keep learning. You never have all the answers. The day you think you do is the day it starts going wrong!

This article was published in the May/June 2024 edition of HR magazine. 

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