• Melissa van der Merwe (Director)

10 Years in: a Personal Reflection on DeriviDoc

Updated: Jan 27, 2020

Ten years ago I was living in London, in a little Victorian flat with my husband Nick, and my 6-month-old baby daughter Grace. I was enjoying the benefits of having a year off from my job at JPMorgan Chase Bank, where I was a legal advisor and negotiator of financial master agreements. I had held this job for close on eight years, and had travelled extensively to South Africa during the preceding two years to negotiate ISDA®s and CSAs with JPMorgan’s South African clients. The carefree, ‘travel as much as you can’ life that London had offered us had changed substantially with the arrival of Grace, and suddenly the wide, warm skies of South Africa and the support of family beckoned. So, in July 2007 we moved ‘home’ to Johannesburg, and with that the question of ‘what shall I do?’ arose. With the many South African contacts that I had made through my work at JPMorgan, and knowing that there was a shortage of ISDA®/CSA skills in the South African market, I decided to take a risk, and try my hand at going it alone! I set up DeriviDoc in August 2007 and haven’t looked back …

I have been blessed to have many long-standing and loyal clients who have believed in me, valued DeriviDoc’s service offerings and supported my small business over the last 9,5 years. Where at first I found it daunting as a ‘one woman band’ to approach large organizations with my service offering and training courses, I now have a broad network of clients across all sectors of business from banks, asset managers, law firms and corporate clients. Whilst DeriviDoc has grown and established itself in the market, it offers a very personalized service and many of DeriviDoc’s clients have become friends over the years. I value my clients and they are so often instrumental in guiding me and letting me know where the knowledge gaps are so that DeriviDoc can keep focused on what services to provide and what knowledge is needed. DeriviDoc has and continues to strive to be the thought leader and the ‘go to’ firm in all things related to the derivatives market, with a particular focus on the South African market. DeriviDoc is growing and expanding to become an international service provider, and I have been fortunate enough to travel to Namibia and the Ivory Coast to provide DeriviDoc training, and 2017 will see travel to Nigeria and Hong Kong.

The training sessions DeriviDoc offers give me a huge amount of satisfaction. I love the interaction with the delegates, the debates and discussions and most of all, it is rewarding to see the ‘light bulb moments’ as attendees finally understand complex concepts that didn’t make sense to them before. The consulting and negotiating services that DeriviDoc provide allow me to help clients negotiate the most favourable positions in their hedging contracts and advise them on all matters related to regulatory compliance and financial master agreements. I enjoy being exposed to a broad range of work for a wide variety of clients, and understanding each individual client’s challenges and concerns – no two days are ever the same!

One of the big challenges is ensuring that DeriviDoc keeps up to date with the ever-changing global regulations and new agreements, which are used in the derivatives market. Luckily I enjoy reading and researching, and many hours a week are spent reading up on new developments in the market, and focusing on how international changes and developments may impact on the South African market. I also travel regularly to London to ensure that I receive the latest training and knowledge that I can in turn apply to a South African market context and then share and pass on to DeriviDoc’s clients.

So, thank you to all my loyal clients for your support that has enabled DeriviDoc to grow and develop and become what it is today. As DeriviDoc celebrates its first decade of business, I look forward to many more years of doing what I love and providing a service to the South African derivatives market, and further afield.

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