The world’s financial markets have evolved significantly in recent years, with technology playing an ever-more pivotal role in shaping the way trading is conducted across all asset classes. From the rise of digital currencies to the increasing electronification of markets such as fixed income, from the wide adoption of cloud to the growing use of artificial intelligence and machine learning in trading, technology is continuing to revolutionise the financial markets sector.
As markets become more globalised and more complex, how are firms leveraging technology to stay ahead of the curve?
Last month, at the 12th TradingTech Summit from A-Team Group, held at London’s Hilton Canary Wharf, hundreds of industry professionals came together to network with their peers and hear from industry leaders discussing the latest trends, challenges, and opportunities in this rapidly evolving sector.
The day kicked off with a keynote fireside chat between Cathy Gibson of Ninety One and Alison Hollingshead of Jupiter Asset Management, who covered a range of topics in their session entitled, “The new world of trading technology – a view from the top”. The two shared their insights on recent developments in the financial markets sector and how those developments are impacting trading technology decisions. Various topics were covered, including the build versus buy conundrum, advantages and disadvantages of cloud and SaaS offerings, the lack of diversity in the financial technology workforce, and strategies for developing and retaining talent.
A panel discussion entitled “Modernizing trading platforms – How to leverage technology and interoperability to create a best in class trading platform” followed, featuring C-level executives from Kepler Cheuvreux, BT Pension Scheme Management, Genesis Global and ION Trading. A key point that came out of the discussion was the suggestion that the two highest priorities for CTOs today are cyber security and change management. In fact, in an audience poll asking, “What are your biggest challenges when modernising your trading platform and integrating new technologies with legacy systems?”, the overwhelming response (68%) was “Migrating systems without causing disruption to the business.”
Jamie Walton, Co-Founder of Siren FX, then delivered a keynote presentation on “New approaches to best execution in institutional FX markets.” Walton highlighted some of the challenges that firms face when trading FX benchmarks around the 4pm fix, and presented alternative approaches that market participants can take, not only to address those challenges and mitigate risks, but also to achieve significant savings.
The next panel featured senior executives from Credit Agricole CIB, Barclays, BSO, EVENTI Consulting and Synechron Consulting discussing, “Balancing performance and agility with risk, resilience and security across trading systems infrastructure.” This was a highly engaging discussion, much of which focused on the cloud and its role in trading technology infrastructure. When the audience was asked, “What is the biggest barrier to running front office trading applications in the cloud?” the highest responses were: cost concerns (33%); cyber security (27%); and pure latency (23%). Panelists agreed that trading will inevitably go to the cloud at some point, but not yet as there are still many challenges to overcome, such as multicast distribution of data, the need for low deterministic latency between trading venues, and the need to monitor network packets with granular timestamp accuracy.
The cloud theme was continued in the next keynote presentation by Judith Perez-Monasterio of BSO, who provided a case study of a trading firm that needed to access liquidity on cloud-based crypto exchanges, and how BSO helped them achieve that.
The final panel session of the morning, “Disruptive innovation in market data – what does the future look like?” featured panelists from Fidelity International, Quilter, Fenics Market Data and BCC Group. This was a highly topical panel session, coming just days after the release of the FCA’s Trade Data Review, which found that rising trade data prices could be causing financial institutions not to purchase essential information, on account of cost. Interestingly, this was borne out by an audience poll, where 77% of response stated “Reduced costs” when asked, “What types of change would your organisation like to see in market data provision?” The panel agreed that market data vendors need to offer more flexibility and transparency in their licensing models.
After lunch, where delegates had the opportunity to network with their peers and meet with sponsors and exhibitors, the second keynote fireside chat of the day, between Virginie Saade of Citadel and Rachel Przybylski of Man Group, was entitled, “Reviewing developments in the global regulatory landscape and the impact on technology change.” This discussion provided a comprehensive overview of the current regulatory environment, with much of the focus on areas of divergence between EU and UK post-Brexit. With the ongoing review of MiFID II and MiFIR in Europe, the UK’s Financial Services and Markets Bill and the upcoming move to T+1 settlement in US, the two discussed how financial institutions can best prepare their IT infrastructure and trading functions for further regulatory change and associated disruption.
A panel entitled, “Optimising trading analytics with an agile and flexible platform,” followed, featuring senior spokespeople from Redburn, Aspect Capital, BMLL Technologies and OneMarketData. Panelists agreed that today’s traders want the deep insights that can only be delivered from real-time data, and discussed how to address challenges that exist around sourcing the data, managing data quality problems, and the associated costs.
Talent acquisition and retention was the subject of the next panel, “The talent, skills and productivity crisis – the greatest threat to capital markets digital transformation”, hosted by Maria Netley of FIX Trading Community and featuring industry leaders from Man Group, BNY Mellon, State Street and Google. Is there a talent crisis? It would seem so. One panelist cited a Korn Ferry report stating that “by 2030, globally, there will be a shortage of 85 million people with the required skill sets to help in digital and data transformation” . Another panelist suggested that the biggest skills gap is actually in leadership. The discussion yielded some great insights, such as, “don't hire for cultural fit, high for cultural add”, and, “If you treat people with respect, value who they are, listen to them, give them space to be themselves and the opportunity to do great work, they're probably going to deliver great work.”
The final panel session of the day, “Digital Assets opportunities and innovations,” featured experts from Ignite G2M, Laser Digital (Nomura Group), SDX and Goldman Sachs, discussing the latest trends and developments in institutional digital asset trading. One of the key themes to come out of this panel was the lack of regulatory clarity that still exists around digital asset trading. In fact, for an audience poll asking, “Which aspect of trading digital assets is the biggest challenge for institutions?” the highest response (47%) was, “Regulation – uncertainty and lack of direction.” Panelists pointed out that the upcoming MiCA regulation in Europe should bring more regulatory clarity in this area.
All in all, this was a well-attended, highly informative and engaging Summit. The day concluded with the TradingTech Insight Europe Awards Winners Ceremony Networking and Drinks Reception, where the leading companies in the trading technology sector were presented with awards across a range of categories.
You can read A-Team Group's article and further industry insights in the latest edition of The Financial Technologist. Download your free copy here.
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