By Andrea Hotter
When Gay Huey Evans attended her first London
Metal Exchange dinner in 1999, she was head of markets at
former UK regulator the Financial Services Authority (FSA).
Some 20 years later she was there as LME chair elect, the first
woman appointed to the role.
"As a regulator I would send my markets people and
occasionally come to learn a little bit more about commodities.
I remember sitting in the back row of an event during LME Week
just listening and fascinated," she told Metal Market
Magazine. "The regulator was always invited to the LME
dinner, and as the FSA head of markets, I would attend."
Her first LME dinner "was a sea of men," something
she had become used to since starting her career. Huey Evans
was the only woman on the top table the first year; there were
six women out of 38 people at her table at the dinner last
Huey Evans’ appointment to the
exchange follows the retirement of Sir Brian Bender in
December, after his almost a decade in the role, and a more
than 30-year career for Huey Evans in financial services,
international capital markets and regulation.
Pennsylvania, USA-born Huey Evans started her
working life at investment bank and brokerage firm PaineWebber
& Co, although she had initially planned a career in
medicine. "I started as pre-med and took organic chemistry the
first semester, got my first C in my entire life, and thought,
'I’m not sure I’m going to make it
into med school.’ You could have been talking to a
surgeon right now!" she laughed.
"My father said, 'whatever you do, do it
well.’ I had no idea really what I wanted to do,
as long as it was different and interesting," she added. She
decided to take international economics, which she found easy
Graduating from Bucknell University in Lewisburg,
Pennsylvania, with a BA in economics, Huey Evans moved, age 22,
to New York and started work at PaineWebber. She was one of two
women on the trading floor; her female colleague did corporate
sales. It was the beginning of the fixed income market, when
financial futures contracts were just being introduced.
"People really didn’t know how to
trade interest rate futures against cash at that time. It was
fascinating. Then PaineWebber wanted to set up a money markets
department; that’s how I started," she
Back then, the financial markets were "a wild
world," she said, but "you didn’t think about it
because you just loved it. It was a job that was interesting,
not a career. New York in the 1970s was a fun place to be,
particularly if you were young. You played and worked hard,"
From PaineWebber she moved to Bankers Trust, where
she worked in the capital markets division. "That was the new
world – derivatives. Nobody knew what a swap or an
option was. It was an exciting but challenging place –
Bankers Trust didn’t create the swap but I
don’t think they get enough credit for the
ingenuity and intellectual rigor it gave to growing that
business and trying to define the risks behind it," Huey Evans
Covering mostly US financial institutions on the
US east coast as well as foreign, in particular Japanese,
institutions, Huey Evans says she "still didn’t
think of it as a career. It was a job. At that time, I did not
think I was going to work in banking my entire life."
While she was trading FX and currency derivatives
at Bankers Trust, the bank developed commodity derivatives. "We
set up Enron’s venture into commodities, initially
as a joint venture and then Enron took the whole project," she
In 1985, Huey Evans was offered an internal
transfer with Bankers Trust to a new role in London, but turned
it down because her former husband could not get relocated. She
continued in New York until 1990, when Bankers Trust lost a
portion of its team to Credit Suisse Financial Products, and
another London opportunity reared its head.
Having raised her hand to run the
company’s London swaps or options desk, Huey
Evans’ boss initially turned her down because he
questioned her ability to move her four-year-old daughter from
"My husband wasn’t working at that
point and was happy to be relocated, and I was happy to move my
daughter to the UK. You couldn’t lose! It took six
months for the company to grasp that I was serious," she
It was in London that Huey Evans recognized how
much she enjoyed working. "It took a long time to get there,
and when I did, I wanted to do the right job but definitely to
also keep working. Then I realized I probably had a career,"
Huey Evans had been on the board of the
International Swaps and Derivatives Association (ISDA), a trade
association for derivatives dealers and other market
participants, since 1990. She was asked to co-chair it, but
ended up becoming its chair in 1994.
It was a baptism of fire: shortly afterwards, her
former employer Bankers Trust was sued by Procter & Gamble
after the consumer goods multinational reported large losses
from interest rate derivatives transactions. The dispute was
settled between the two companies before it was due for
"My appointment was challenged by some as my
former company, Bankers Trust, was 'problematic’
[in their view] – but Bankers Trust was only one of
several organizations that were involved in high-profile
derivatives-related losses," she said.
ISDA addressed, and continues to address, problems
– either through codes of conduct, improved
documentation, reducing or eliminating legal risks, developing
protection against counterparty bankruptcy, maintaining good
industry relationships with regulators, and responding to
regulatory and legislative concerns, including testifying in
Washington, she added.
It was what Huey Evans describes as a "growing-up
period" in her life. "I learned much about different
stakeholders and people’s interests, including
politicians and lawyers," she reflected.
She spent time during that period trying to
explain why positions should be netted down, something she
believes was "the right thing at the time because the size and
magnitude of our business grew from there."
"In the early 1990s, the outstanding notional
amount of OTC derivatives was almost $3.5 trillion; when I
finished in 1998 it was estimated to be close to $60 trillion
and now it’s over $500 trillion. This explosion of
OTC derivatives is rarely mirrored in other industries," she
Path to the LME
Then in 1998, Huey Evans was approached by Howard
Davies, then chairman of the newly established FSA, to join him
at the regulator.
"I said, 'I’m not a regulator,
I’m a market practitioner. I work with clients, I
manage risks and find solutions.’ But Howard is
such a clever man, and I thought, to work with him would be a
great opportunity, so why not?" she added.
She was tasked with setting up the FSA markets
division, where she stayed until 2005. Its work involved
regulation of markets, including exchanges, and provided her
with an ongoing involvement with the LME. "The first thing I
learned about the LME was the Hamanaka crisis, which had
happened in 1996 but was still being cleaned up," Huey Evans
said, referring to a metal trading scandal involving the chief
copper trader of Japanese trading house Sumitomo.
"Getting to know how people can get stuck in
positions and don’t want to recognize losses is an
age-old problem that happens over and over again in all
markets. Why there were no risk systems around it to monitor
it, I have no idea. It just tells you that even then,
commodities were in a different world," she added.
She was also involved in the discussions related
to regulation in Europe, including the Markets in Financial
Instruments Directive of 2004, a European Union law that
provides harmonized regulation for investment services across
the 31 member states of the European Economic Area. Huey Evans
also attended International Organization of Securities
Commissions (IOSCO) meetings as a substitute for Davies.
"The FSA role was broad, which I enjoyed. I
learned so much about regulation, government and myself," she
said. During her tenure the FSA created the Market Abuse
Regime, which preceded the EU Market Abuse Directive and was
designed to prevent, detect and punish market abuse. Huey Evans
believes that while most people want to do the right thing,
there are always some who are motivated otherwise, and "those
are the ones that should be locked up, fined or banned."
"I’m a principles-based person rather
than a rules-based person. A lot of people need rules, but you
can get around rules, especially by hiring a very good lawyer,"
she said. "If you’re principles-based, you are
motivated to do the right thing at all times. I know rules are
necessary to give people structure, but a rule compels you to
do what someone else has deemed right," she added.
While at the FSA, Huey Evans also learned a lot
about the regulation and operational aspects of exchanges and
achieving fair and accurate price formation. "Markets create
prices by establishing an equilibrium between supply and demand
and these prices do impact the public. So you
don’t want somebody manipulating the market by
creating an artificial or false representation of what that
reference price will be," she said.
After leaving the FSA in 2005, Huey Evans moved to
Citi for three years, where she had roles including head of
governance, Citi Alternative Investments EMEA. In 2008, she
became Barclays Capital vice chair of investment banking and
investment management, and was responsible for
Barclays’ relationships with sovereign funds
The approach for the LME role came through a
headhunter. Huey Evans had met Laura Cha, chair of the
LME’s owner, Hong Kong Exchanges & Clearing
(HKEX), when they were both regulators two decades before, and
sat on the Financial Reporting Council with outgoing chairman
Sir Brian Bender, although the latter did not play a part in
Huey Evans had turned down several opportunities
before the LME job emerged because the roles did not entice
her. But attracted by the tangible nature of commodities, Huey
Evans said the real draw for her in taking the LME chair role
was the people she would be working with. "There’s
a great team at the LME – I don’t go
anywhere that I don’t like and respect the people.
I have learned that over the years," she noted.
"I understood exchanges reasonably well, although
that would have evolved, and markets is one aspect of my
background. The LME is a unique market and it will be a
challenge to understand all the nuances – clearly it
will keep the brain going and make me think about what the
future of our exchange is," she added.
Challenges for the LME
Technology will play a critical role in the
LME’s future, Huey Evans said, with an upgrade of
the exchange’s infrastructure on the immediate
"Technology is a key challenge because
we’ve got to do a trading infrastructure refresh
and need to be on top of those projects," she told Metal Market
Magazine. "It’s always the most boring but you
cannot let it go wrong – the risks are too great. A
lot of time will be spent on that," she added.
Longer-term, technology is also at the center
of the debate over the fate of the LME open outcry trading
floor, which continues to pit proponents of the ring and its
prompt dates system against modernizers favoring electronic
trade in cash-cleared, monthly contracts.
The LME has been trialing different ways of using
electronic closing prices, including via a volume weighted
average price (VWAP) function, with a decision on the latter
expected soon. "All of the VWAP, and other trials
we’ve been looking at, are worth trying to see
where you get the best price at the end of the day. What the
outcome is going to be, it’s too soon to tell,"
Huey Evans said.
"There are a lot of financial participants who
play the economy but will never play in the ring. They just
want a three-month futures contract, it’s what
they know, it’s easy, and that’s the
way they trade commodities. We also have a multitude of people
who want to hedge for five, ten, 20 years, and they want to do
it from today," she added.
While the advent of technology has brought many
benefits, it has meant the relationships aspect of trading,
including knowing your client and their needs, has faded, Huey
Evans noted. "Before electronic trading, you knew who your
client was, whether you trusted them or not, why they were
doing the trade. It was all about relationships," she said.
"When I started my business teaching people about swaps, I went
out to boards of banks and talked about asset liability
management to show the benefit of offsetting their assets and
their liabilities. That’s kind of gone away," she
Noting that most markets have gone electronic,
Huey Evans said that transition has been injurious to the
market in some places while in other places it is easier to get
transactions done because there is more transparency. "As much
as I believe in right conduct and I hope the world is moving
toward better conduct, I’m not so sure it brings
out the best in people when you can hide behind an electronic
system," she added.
Similarly the advent of algorithmic trading has
brought changes to the trading environment, Huey Evans noted.
"Algo traders have become part of the market and while they
have a role to play, you can’t allow them to drive
the markets because that’s not a real market. If
you have more volume from algo trading than actual underlying
business based on supply and demand, then we’re
doing something wrong," she said.
In the years since the global financial crisis of
2008-09, financial markets have seen a plethora of rules and
regulations designed to prevent a similar crisis from
developing again. But many markets lament what they see as
over-regulation, a perception that Huey Evans tends to agree
"I do think regulation has gone overboard.
However, I can’t understand why we
didn’t clean things up sooner. Why does it take a
regulator to tell a company, 'you’re not doing
this well’? Companies should already have good
governance and processes around everything they do," she
"Regulators recognized changes were not made
quickly enough. Therefore, regulators are imposing more and
more rules on the basis that you can take risk in accordance
with the capital base you have," she added.
But as additional capital adequacy requirements
have been imposed, liquidity has reduced in the markets, she
noted. "Those firms who still run sizeable value at risk (VAR)
positions are making more money than most and are becoming
dominant players," she said. "Trading floors are less risk
taking now than previously, with risk laid off immediately and
a lot more diversification in terms of how it is laid off and
with which market participants," she added.
But according to Huey Evans, who is agnostic about
which venue LME members use to trade, the fate of the floor is
not intrinsically linked to regulation. "Regulation is unlikely
to have anything to do with the fate of the LME trading floor;
the future of the floor is going to be determined by the type
of members and participants it has. I don’t know
what the correct future model is, but I do know that right now
you’ve got floor members acting both as agent and
as principal for producers, consumers, hedgers – their
customer base is vast," she said.
"I’m indifferent really to what venue
is used. What I care about is price transparency and price
formation, so that when we have an official close and a closing
price, those prices really represent all market participants,"
Responsible sourcing, a key topic for the exchange
over the past year and set to remain so in the future, is
something Huey Evans is prioritizing. "I believe we all have to
do our bit. Buying something that’s irresponsibly
sourced is the wrong thing to do. Environmental, social and
corporate governance (ESG) costs money, but it is essential,"
It is a subject that she is familiar with; Huey
Evans sits on the board of ConocoPhillips as well as its audit
and public policy committees, and has worked on various
projects to drive improved community relationships and the oil
and gas major’s sustainability footprint.
"Many of the big mining companies are doing the
same thing [as in oil and gas], but not enough. A lot of them
are dealing in countries that are problematic, and the monies
aren’t going back into the communities, to the
artisanal miners, to the indigenous people," she said.
"Miners and oil companies need to have a social
license to do business and they have to pay for it. They often
pay for it to governments, and then the governments should be
giving back. But also they should be doing something directly
themselves," she told Metal Market Magazine.
"I’m truly passionate about it and I
see it works, but we can all do more. The LME has to put the
pressure on," she added.
As the LME’s first woman in the role
of chair, Huey Evans believes gender diversity is about giving
women a stronger voice in a world that has been dominated by
men. "I am very keen to address the issue of how to bring more
women into commodities, starting with the practical elements of
attracting women with the desired skill-sets to commodities in
the first instance," she said.
"Once we have attracted more women to the
industry, we then have to keep them there – since the
more women we have in leadership roles the more of an impact it
will have – so we need to look at sponsorship,
mentorship and succession planning. I’m certain
that greater diversity in commodities – and of course
it goes beyond gender diversity – will quite simply
lead to greater success," she added.
The male-dominated management of mining companies
typically require senior staff to live and work at operating
assets around the world – something that Huey Evans
said is a further constraint on women’s careers.
"There’s a debate – people whose careers
have come up that way think it’s absolutely
essential to know how your operations work, and you
can’t just do it from central office.
It’s not always convenient, it’s not
always safe, but it’s still part of the mindset,"
"So boards have to say, 'do we really think that
is necessary?’ It requires women who are willing
to travel, and families that can go with them or be split up.
That discussion is part of the problem still," she added.
Huey Evans carved her own path through hard work
and sheer determination, and admits it is "super hard to do it
on your own, and far better to have someone to support
"I felt strongly enough about getting home at a
certain hour – it was still super late – but
at least I could put my daughter to bed and try to read her a
story when I was home. Then I’d get back on the
phone and work from home at night," she recalled. "People would
say, 'but you’re not sticking around at the
office, you’re leaving early.’ It
didn’t matter that I worked until very late at
home. That was the pressure. It probably half killed me, but I
did it. Should I have done it? I don’t know. It
was a lot of hard work," she added.
Huey Evans said that at some point as a child her
daughter Alexandra, now a script writer in Los Angeles,
resented that she was not around as much as other parents. "In
hindsight my daughter has said she really appreciates what I
did. That recognition came when she got to around 15. When
you’re younger it’s not so easy," she
She is hopeful that she can help spearhead
diversity and inclusion because she is in a position where the
LME can do something about it. The exchange recently held its
first ever Women in Commodities lunch, bringing together women
from across the industry.
"I’m extremely supported by our chief
executive officer Matt Chamberlain, who’s done a
great job within the LME of making sure it has a balance of
women. The LME gender pay gap is done well, although yes, we
can always raise it and look for more parity, so more senior
women are needed in certain positions," she said.
"Chairman or chairwoman? I don’t care
what you call me, the job is still the same," she
Huey Evans is a member of the US Council on
Foreign Relations, a non-executive member of the UK HM Treasury
Board, and a senior adviser to Chatham House. She is also a
Trustee of the Beacon Collaborative and former Chair of Beacon
Awards, set up to encourage and celebrate philanthropy in the
UK. Similarly, she is a Trustee of Wellbeing of Women, a
charity dedicated to improving the health of women and
She enjoys playing tennis and skiing, and is a
keen hiker, including taking an annual trip with her
She also has a creative streak: having sat on the
board of concert venue The Wigmore Hall for many years, Huey
Evans is a music lover and is currently taking jazz singing
lessons for the first time. "That’s something I
really like – it’s very relaxing," she
says. "Maybe I’ll sing at next year’s
LME Dinner!" she joked.
She was a co-opted trustee at the Tate for nine
years and mentors several people who run big arts
organizations. "If I had done what I really wanted to do, it
would probably never have been in finance," she added.