The Original “Fearless Girl”
Rita Saverino’s three decades in the FX industry began with an application for a secretarial job at Citibank in New York in 1982, but her native Italian landed her a job on the foreign exchange desk instead.
In an industry with few women traders, Rita worked her way up the ladder, becoming the chief FX trader at the biggest FX bank on the Street. The team at Citi was large and close knit – many of whom have spent their careers together.
In 1994, eight of the top traders from that Citi team – led by Michael deSa, then global head of FX at Citi – made one of the biggest en masse moves ever seen in the FX industry with an early morning move to Deutsche Bank, then a relative unknown. The number of dealers that ultimately made the move reached close to 20.
Saverino ran the spot desk at Deutsche as the bank built its reputation and technology to quickly emerge as a contender for the biggest name in the market – moving from number 22 in the industry, to number two in just a few short years.
As the move to electronic trading began to grow, Saverino shifted her focus – moving to the e-commerce team – where she worked as a key member of the global liquidity solutions group and helped build the bank’s electronic trading capabilities.
Speaking at a Profit & Loss conference in 2003, she told the audience that, “A good way for a bank to differentiate itself is through innovation”, explaining that Deutsche had a group dedicated to developing new tools for clients. “The market is very dynamic,” she said, “and this is a good time to be in this business.”
Five years later, as global markets head of FX4Cash, Saverino helped the bank launch a global cross-currency payment service for corporates and financial institutions that brought together two disparate parts of Deutsche Bank, the Global Markets and Transaction Banking divisions. A feat many credit to her unique ability to “connect with her co-workers to collaborate on projects”.
It was several years after the launch that Saverino was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer, but she faced it head on with persistence and courage. After seeking multiple surgeons’ opinions about surgery, she found a doctor that would operate, but who told her, “It is difficult, but possible.”
As remembered on the Sarcoma Foundation of America’s (SFA) website, she thought: “After seven surgeons said that I was inoperable, this was music to my ears. I remember thinking, ‘If he can do possible, I will do difficult’.”
Difficult she did. After recovering from an intensive surgery, Rita became active as a Board member of the SFA, and later received the foundation’s SFA Courage Award in 2011. But the cancer would return and she died in late 2014.
Rita is uniquely qualified to be an honouree of this year’s Profit & Loss Hall of Fame, as the many, many attestations from her peers over the decades shows. The industry she held so dear respects her as much as she did the industry. Those in the industry today would do well to hold itself to the same standards that Rita held of herself: “determination, intelligence, integrity and fairness”, as one former colleague notes.
“Rita was an integral part of the fabric of success at DB since 1994. She was a pioneer as the first female MD in spot trading, then reinventing herself as a leader in the ecommerce and prime brokerage businesses. Always willing to challenge her professional boundaries, her last role involved building a highly successful joint venture with the transaction bank, which could only have been achieved because both sides trusted her. Far more than that, she was simply the most wonderful human being that I worked with at DB. Her quiet determination, intelligence, integrity and fairness were admired by all. I once asked her after her operation about how she felt about her illness and remember how she said that she was just thankful for every day. I feel inspired and awestruck by her grace and determination and so privileged that I had the chance to work with her.” – Zar Amrolia
“Rita Saverino was a pioneer on Wall Street in the ‘90s at a time when women leaders in global market trading roles was a rarity. While at Citi in the early ‘90s, her accomplishments as a senior trading manager not only recognised her markets’ competence, but more importantly, that she was an individual with impeccable values and ethics that many traders came to admire. Later, Rita assumed a senior executive role at Deutsche Bank and transformed DB into the foreign exchange powerhouse that it is today on Wall Street. Rita married her soulmate Joe and together they had two wonderful sons, once again a reflection of her judgment and values. Compliments to her family, may her blessings shower down upon us all.” – Dr Michael E. deSa
“Rita was one of the most special people I have ever met. She was a good friend and role model in many ways. Rita had an exceptional way about her, which was clear through her leadership, vision, drive and unique touch with people. She was respected by clients and peers in this tough industry. Rita was not only an expert in Foreign Exchange, but her accomplishments brought FX into the 21st century. I was so fortunate to have her as my mentor. But most of all, Rita was a dear friend and her words and memories will stay with me always.” – Maria Prata
“My friend Rita: When I think of Rita, I fondly remember her soft spoken voice, the twinkle in her eyes, those big, beautiful brown eyes and, best of all, her little laugh. She was a private person who cared deeply about her friends and especially her family. When you were in her company, she had a way of making you feel comfortable and special. She loved her boys, and spoke so proudly of them, and loved her mother so. She had so many funny stories about coming from a traditional family and being a modern woman.
“My colleague Rita: She was a leader, a woman who got things done with unique grace and class. She knew her stuff – bright and sharp – and yet was totally unassuming. She had vision and wasn’t afraid of risk. Managing it was in her blood. I have so many fond memories of our time together both at Citi and at Deutsche Bank.” – Angela Campo-Romano
“Rita was always the tallest person in the room – when she spoke, you would listen intently as you always knew you were going to walk away with tokens of wisdom. Rita had a way of taking the most complex topics and initiatives and breaking them down in a way that everyone could understand. No matter how challenging the task, she could get others to rally behind her projects. I remember like it was yesterday being in a year-end offsite where we would agree what projects we would take on for the following year, Rita waited to the end and took the items that no one chose (which were usually the most difficult ones), and when I asked her why she did that, she said, ‘In order for me to be in my comfort zone, sometimes I have to take on challenges that put me outside of my comfort zone.’ Rita, thanks for the wisdom, your caring ways, and all the wonderful stories of Joe, Luca and Matt, who she loved very much. God bless you and your family, you will never be forgotten.” – Rafael Quezada
“Rita Saverino was a very special person and colleague. She was an admired woman on Wall Street and role model to many of us.” – Denise Bandl
“Rita was one of the first people I met when I arrived at Deutsche Bank and I had the pleasure of working with her for over a decade. She demonstrated a quiet but visible strength and was a presence on the Deutsche Bank trading floor who helped shape our business into a world-class platform. She was a confident, intelligent leader who believed that hard work and being present made good teams great, and good businesses into world-class franchises. She put team ahead of personal achievements and never shied away from a challenge. Her work on our e-trading businesses provided the foundation for where we are today. Her ability to relate to people and to make the complicated simple, elevated all those who worked with her and made us all accomplish things that had eluded us in the past. Her presence is still firmly rooted in many of us who were fortunate to work and spend time with her.” –Hans Ephraimson
“Rita was at the forefront of the technology age in FX. I've always admired Rita for her professionalism through the years and became friends when I joined EBS ( for 19 years). Highly regarded by her co-workers, colleagues and friends with her forwardthinking leadership, Rita has always remained positive throughout her work career and personal life. I miss her.” – Fulinda Rouse “From the day that we first sat next to each other on the trading floor at Deutsche Bank in New York and began our journey into the uncharted waters of FX e-commerce at a time when few were even familiar with the term API, we embarked on a great adventure. Not sure I could have ever asked for a better person with whom to share this experience. Rita was a genuine soul in and out of the office. I will always remember the laughs we shared chatting about our Italian upbringings, respective families and most of all our children. Her dedication and commitment to her family and her work will always serve as an inspiration to me.” – Joseph Ziccarelli
“Rita was a highlight of my 30-year career in FX. As many of you know, in a trading room environment, the trader who makes the most money gets promoted to management. Therefore, you rarely have good managers on a trading desk. Rita broke that mould. She was the successful trader who also made a great manager. Rita hired me at DB and with her insight, together we were successful with several projects from the launch of AutobahnFX in the early 2000s, to the development and launch of FX4Cash in the mid-2000s. Rita taught us to always look at the process; if you detect a problem, go back to the process and see how it worked or didn't work. Once you have a good process you can repeat and repeat it, no matter the issue. Still to this day, I think about Rita whenever I face a problem and need to look at the process. For new problems, she taught me to create a process. On a personal note, Rita recommended me for a role in London, which led to a two-year assignment in London, which was a life changing experience for my entire family.” – Betsy Waters
“Having worked closely with Rita for a number of years and then subsequently to have been her peer, I regard it as a privilege to have known this wonderful, talented lady. Not only did she understand the Foreign Exchange business, she had a tremendous passion for it, which shone through. She was one of the very first spot traders to make the successful transition to ecommerce and of course as part of the formative team of Autobahn as we grew the pre-eminent electronic franchise.
“When we worked together, we exchanged ideas and discussed concepts that are today part of the standard of how eFX operates. Rita, as part of the team, was instrumental in that development. “In addition to her professional expertise, Rita showed her warm sense of humour that embodied her enjoyment of life and the business. After I left Deutsche Bank, I returned to New York with Morgan Stanley and in one visit stayed for the weekend. I arranged to meet Rita for drinks downtown in TriBeCa and suffice to say, the evening was a long one. We spent much of the evening reminiscing and also talking about both of our young families and our futures. I could see the anticipation and excitement in her as she looked at her life ahead. Rita's husband Joe was kind enough to pour me into a taxi back to my hotel that evening.
“It was the last time that Rita and I really met away from industry events and the last time we met before I found out about her illness. I know that she fought it as bravely as only she could. I repeat – it was a privilege and an honour to know this wonderful lady and knowing her proves to me the truth that ‘only the good die young’.” – Jeremy Smart
“I was fortunate enough to work with Rita for many years and at many different stages in my career and life. Rita was always there as a mentor to me at work and personally. Her story and her values were an inspiration to me from a professional perspective, but more importantly from a personal perspective. By just being who she was, she taught us all how to be the right person at work, in the community and at home. Her recognition and induction into the Profit & Loss Hall of Fame is a reflection on the impact she had to the market and more importantly, to the many people in the FX Community.” – Joe Norena
“Rita and I started at Citibank a week apart in the summer of 1982, both recent graduates, she from high school, me with a graduate degree. Despite the difference in age and educational experience, she immediately began teaching me about life. I was intrigued by this unflappable dynamo who was not only unafraid of Wall Street, but welcomed it with open arms. Of course, 17- year-olds don’t know everything and our relationship in many ways became one of big brother, little sister. It drove me to distraction crossing the main avenues in New York with Rita. As soon as the sign said walk, she’d walk, without looking to her left or right. I’d scold her but her answer was always the same: the light is red, they have to stop. That’s how she lived her life, straight ahead. She had things to do and nothing was going to stop her. Yes, Rita was a remarkable success in a tough business. But that’s not what I think of when I think of Rita. I remember that 17-year-old girl who was not only willing to face any challenge, she would face it head on without fear, without complaint. We were all heartbroken when Rita was diagnosed with the worst of diseases. Not Rita. To her it was a challenge she would face bravely, intelligently and as a woman of great faith. Even then she continued to teach me, to teach us all. I think of Rita most days and yes, I miss her dearly. But always the memory makes me smile. Rita fought the good fight, she finished the race, she kept the faith. I will see you again Rita, but not yet. I have yet to finish my race. Thank you for showing me the way.” – Guy Piserchia
“I first met Rita when she was running the FX trading desk at Deutsche Bank. This seems like a simple statement, but even in 2017 this is an achievement, let alone in the late ‘90s. I have known only a handful of women who have been on the trading side of our business over the last 25 years and none of them have run a desk. To succeed in that environment, you have to be very tough and very smart. Rita was both of these things, yet she was also extremely wise and caring. As I got to know her as a friend, I realised she also possessed a great sense of humour. All of these attributes contributed to her success in her career, and her popularity amongst her colleagues. Rita was the original ‘Fearless Girl’ standing in front of the bull. She was an inspiration to all of us in this profession, and especially to the women who worked with her and for those she has paved a way for in the future.” – Liza Duke
“Rita was an amazing woman. She was smart, humble, fun and most importantly, ethical and kind. She embraced the opportunity to learn, which was a major factor to her success in her career. Rita was a role model for so many of us and we are so lucky to have had the opportunity to work with her.” – Elaine Lloyd
“Anyone who had the pleasure to know or work alongside of Rita would undoubtedly share that she made significant contributions to the FX industry, influenced the growth and direction of the business and garnered tremendous respect from her peers. As her friend and colleague, what inspired me most was that she accomplished all of this yet still had the strength, courage and forethought to always put her family first.” – Maura Craven
“Rita and I worked as regional heads of Spot Trading together at Deutsche Bank. In what was then a very male oriented business, Rita showed unbelievable mental toughness and strong leadership to steer the NY trading team through what were difficult times. Not only was she a skilled trader and a fantastic people manager, she was also a friend, a confidante and a wonderful human being. We all miss her laugh and her smile and her warm heart. She will never be forgotten.” – Ian O’Flaherty
“Rita was unique in her ability to adapt to an ever-changing environment in a hyper competitive market place, while maintaining the highest level of professionalism and integrity. As a manager, trader and colleague she was always approachable and made herself available to work out business issues. She was a star. Whether trading, managing people or developing new businesses, she did it intelligently, methodically and ethically.” – Dan Almeida
“Rita was a true industry pioneer, and played a central role in the development of DB’s market-leading global FX franchise. She joined from Citi back in 1994 (when we were not even a top 10 house in FX) to run spot trading in New York, one of the first women to run a major FX trading desk, which she did extremely successfully. Rita was one of the first FX traders to understand how important electronic trading would become to our business, and in the 1990s, she was a key driver behind the development of Autobahn FX, and our subsequent success in e-trading. She then turned her talents to developing our cash management services offering, setting up and then co-running our FX4Cash business.
“Rita was an outstanding trader, a great manager and one of the few people to be truly popular with clients and peers in what we all know to be a tough industry. Her courage in the face of the cancer she was diagnosed with in 2010 was exceptional. She was an inspirational and remarkable woman who touched the hearts of all those lucky enough to know her well. In the words of Joe Randazzo, who worked closely with her, she was one of a kind.” – Russell LaScala
“I met Rita, my friend and co-worker, when I expanded my role from running Global Liquidity Management (GLM) North America to also running FX North America at Deutsche Bank (DB). Upon my introduction to Rita, I was struck by a few things. Her complete commitment to making DB the number one FX house regionally and globally and her unique ability to connect with her co-workers to collaborate on projects that ultimately led to DB achieving those goals and objectives, and her ability never to give up no matter what hurdle stood in front of her. I have always admired her persistence, determination and professionalism that she put into her work and in her life overall. Like many of us, Rita started her career at the bottom of the FX ladder. Unlike many, she rose to become a Managing Director, and Global Head of FX4Cash at Deutsche Bank's prestigious FX product class. Rita was a person who had a passion to compete at the highest levels of our business and did so without losing her kindness, compassion and concern for her fellow workers. Her accomplishments were far and vast – from Spot trading, Electronic trading platforms, Foreign Exchange Prime Brokerage and her biggest success, Global FX4Cash, which is still a very profitable and growing product in the FX space today. Rita was widely respected not only within Deutsche Bank, but also broadly in the small, close knit, global FX community. It was no accident that Rita became a success. Her contribution to Deutsche Bank’s success was significant and meaningful.
“On a personal level, my day had a hectic and full schedule of business, however, I always made time whenever Rita needed feedback or just wanted to recap the day-to-day of being in the competitive FX arena. She was warm, engaging, funny and had a sincere concern for people she considered co-workers, but more importantly, friends. I always felt after those talks that Rita was a person of intellect, but more importantly was a person who had a generosity of spirit and desire to make things better. Most importantly and one of the reasons why I call Rita my friend was that although Rita loved her work and co-workers, she loved her husband Joe and her two children, Luca and Matthew, even more. Her family was a motivating force behind her success and she sacrificed when needed to, in order to see that her success would directly benefit those in her family she dearly loved.
“It is with fondness, yet profound sadness, that I have to write
these kind words about my friend Rita Saverino when she is no
longer here to hear them. Though she was dedicated to her work,
she was more dedicated to her family, friends and loved ones.
Often it is only after one is gone that their true difference is felt.
That was not so with Rita. I was a champion of her work, but
more so a champion of her life. She touched my heart, and my
life will be forever blessed for it. Rita’s life mattered and truly
made a difference! Life and the world was greatly better when
she was here and a hole was left when she passed too soon. It
was my honour and pleasure to have had Rita touch my life in
such a special way. I will always remember her and miss her
deeply. She was a shining light that will always stay lit in our lives.
“With deepest Respect for Rita, Joe, Luca, Matthew and friends
and all who her loved her.” – Joe Randazzo