“Mind The Gap!” – The life and times of a man on the move Episode 96

As FinanceFeeds turns five years old, we look at the way things were then, now, and before!

In this weekly series, I look back on what stood out, what was bemusing, amusing and interesting during my weekly travels, interesting findings within the FX industry and interaction with an ever-shrinking big wide world. This is purely observational and for your enjoyment

Five Alive!

No, not that high sugar content tropical fruit drink from the calorific 1980s, something much more substantial..

Anniversaries are not something that I often get overly sentimental about, however today I think represents an important one. On June 1, 2015, FinanceFeeds was established, making us five years old, which is a great milestone indeed.

Much has changed since 1991, when I began my career in the electronic trading industry as an apprentice PBX and Cisco Switch engineer at what is now BT Radianz, going on to work under my own business at major Tier 1 banks and professional services consultancies as a systems engineer, however it certainly is the case that much has changed since 2015, and I am very proud that FinanceFeeds has been a mainstay of the current affairs of the entire industry during this period.

We have witnessed some commercial changes, and many market changes during this time, for example the development of entirely new trading systems, extensive upgrades to existing ones, as well as the disappearance from prominence of some of the largest firms in the retail sector, quickly replaced by new ones, as well as the onset of the new age of challenger investment firms, the dawn of multi-asset retail trading and entire geographical regulatory structure overhauls.

One of the most important tenets of our industry, and certainly one which makes this such an interesting and engaging business to be part of, is the continued striving for improvement and innovation that exists. I am very fortunate to have long relationships with so many key figures in this industry – all of whom I respect very highly and for whose friendship I am extremely grateful – and the enthusiasm, dedication and commitment is always present, regardless of length of service or conditions.

This is a testimony to the tenacity and professional conduct of our leaders and to the professionals in each sector, and should be revered as a proud aspect of a business sector that stands out among many others.

Since 2015, FinanceFeeds has hosted over 40 events, ranging from IB seminars in Asia and Africa, to business networking events in the form of our “FinanceFeeds Cup” series in Sydney, Limassol, New York and London, to derivatives sector executive seminars in Chicago, to full scale thought leadership conferences in London, attended by some of the world’s most prominent algo traders, hedge fund managers, professional asset management companies and technologists.

We have been instrumental in reporting from within the offices of companies that are important to our business, and in bringing transparency to the stakeholders in the electronic trading industry, as well as enabling vital B2B relationships that change the course of the industry for the better.

I have spent the last few years traveling extensively, in order to commit to bringing the most important aspects of the electronic trading business across all sectors together, and to report on important matters that help businesses form their corporate decisions, fomenting good quality partnerships, and even lobbying organizations to remove bad apples from our business, in order to keep the quality high and our future sustainable.

In 1991, when an IBM Mainframe which hosted transaction databases via SQL server connection, 10-base-2 connectors were common, and PBX switches connecting executing venues and banks were owned by the government, who would have thought that today’s iPhone would be more powerful and capable than an entire system which needed to be encased in an abattoir refrigerator and was larger than most modern family homes?

Who would have thought that most retail brokerages (many of which did not exist back in 1991) would not have any hardware at all on site? Even quite recently, server farms were quite common within small to medium sized brokerages – basically anything that was not a white label or affiliate office.

Today, evolution is rapid, and flexible.

10BASE2 networks could not be extended without breaking service temporarily for existing users and the presence of many joints in the cable also makes them very vulnerable to accidental or malicious disruption.

There were proprietary wallport/cable systems that claimed to avoid these problems (e.g. SaferTap) but these never became widespread, possibly due to a lack of standardization. Can you imagine that in today’s retail trading environment, where best execution and nano-second response is demanded?

Looking back at the summer of 1991 when I arrived at British Telecommunications Financial Outsourcing division (Now BT Radianz) which was a former telephone exchange that had been already condemned for dereliction, I considered that one day there would be less demand for large physical hosting facilities on the server and connectivity side of the financial services industry also, because the exchanges had already gone that way, digital and compact, and for sure, the same companies that had driven that corporate methodology of reducing real estate liabilities by not needing large exchanges and making systems adaptable so that they are not region-specific (the stuff of Buck Rogers back in the early 1990s!) would do the same to the financial technology sector.

Indeed the founding in 1998 of North American multinational giant Equinix went some way toward confimring my opinions of the time. Founders Al Avery and Jay Adelson believed that existing data centers would not be sufficient to support the rapid growth of the internet and saw the opportunity to deploy data centers on a much larger scale to support this growth. Nowadays, colocation at the company’s LD4 an NY3 facilities is very common indeed.

British Telecommunications had been a pioneer in the provision of IP connectivity and network development to the financial services industry, however whilst I gained some highly valuable qualifications and a very early insight into the industry, there were some characters that I had not been so prepared for.

Whilst spending one day per week in evening school as part of the apprenticeship, where I studied my Cisco Certified Professional qualifications and began studying for Microsoft Student Partner (the stage before Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer), the remainder was spent inside the firm’s server rooms, configuring PBX switches and Cisco routers for banks and institutional partners in London.

Many years passed and many great relationships were formed with like minded colleagues which led me to be so enthusiastic about getting the chance in 2012 to begin reporting from within the industry and providing detailed coverage of all aspects of the electronic trading business from within, often directly via interaction with the most senior executives worldwide.

In 2015 when FinanceFeeds was established, the ideology was to support the good quality end of this business, and provide a unique and interactive method for companies to present their current matters of importance, viewpoints, new products and evolving business methodology in great detail, by people who understand this business comprehensively. We do not see ourselves as reporters or journalists, but as specialists who understand the intricacies of the FX and CFD business from technology, to brokerage operations, to execution methodology and operational conditions.

My aim was to create a unique and detailed method of giving everyone a voice, and being able to represent it in a very knowledgeable fashion, so that we provide value to those who require full and comprehensive information about a very complex industry and all of its workings.

We rely tremendously on the good nature of our industry’s leaders who are always very open and keen to discuss important matters, and I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of our dedicated staff members at FinanceFeeds who are tenacious and professional, as well as our esteemed customers and avid readers who I personally value tremendously.

Here’s to the next five years!

Wishing you all a super week ahead.

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