Why an FX industry COO must have a technological edge: Interview with Sucden Financial’s Gavin Parker

It is relatively commonplace for senior operations executives within FX firms to have come from an industry background of investment banking or to possess a wealth of electronic brokerage experience. In London’s highly sophisticated institutional FX environment, and most certainly among liquidity providers, financial technology is at the heart of operational leadership, hence the prestigious, […]

It is relatively commonplace for senior operations executives within FX firms to have come from an industry background of investment banking or to possess a wealth of electronic brokerage experience.

In London’s highly sophisticated institutional FX environment, and most certainly among liquidity providers, financial technology is at the heart of operational leadership, hence the prestigious, long-established Sucden Financial’s decision to elevate Gavin Parker to Chief Operatiing Officer.

Mr. Parker joined Sucden Financial in May 2007 as Director of Information Systems a position which he held for eight and a quarter years until his promotion to Chief Operating Officer, highlighting both the long tenure at the company that many of its key staff commit to, as well as the firm’s understanding of the essential correlation between liquidity provision and proficient technical prowess.

A few years ago I gave an external presentation on the “Build vs Buy” arguments, with the pros and cons of each strategy. Putting to one side the higher risk elements of building, I would argue that over the last few years we have been able to develop specific functionality with enhanced stability and risk controls for our worldwide customer base, and retain control of what we consider to be a key differentiator and business driver – our systems. We have started an aggressive expansion programme to ensure these systems will be more than sufficient to cater for our customers’ future trading needs.  – Gavin Parker, COO, Sucden Financial

Mr. Parker has over three and a half decades worth of experience in enterprise technology, which is a highly notable accolade indeed.

After a three year position as IT Director at Fortis Bank between 1997 and 2000, Mr. Parker became Managing Director of RTS Realtime Systems, a company at which he spent four years before becoming Sales Manager at Trading Technologies, which led to his appointment at Sucden Financial in 2007 as Director of IT.

Beginning his career in 1981, Mr. Parker has over 34 years worth of experience in technology, having joined Microdata Systems Ltd in 1981 as a Programmer, before moving to Canadian technology firm Noranda Corporation in 1983 as an Analyst/Programmer, which led to two years at Cumulus Systems Ltd in a Customer Support capacity. Following this,  he joined Fuji Inernational Finance in 1986, a company with which he spent eleven years as Associate Director.

Sucden COO
Gavin Parker, COO, Sucden Financial

In order to provide a clear insight into the importance of technological expertise within today’s modern brokerages, FinanceFeeds spoke to Mr. Parker in great detail to look at this particular competitive advantage.

With an extensive background in commercial IT, mostly in senior directorship positions, do you think that by assuming the role of COO and board member it gives Sucden Financial a technological edge over rival institutions whose operations directors are from financial and trading backgrounds?

Sucden Financial has a long history of internal software development and over half of the IT department is made up of engineers and business analysts to support the ongoing development of Sucden Financial’s trading system (STAR) and the back office system (F2).

My IT and trading specific ISV experience has always been of benefit to the company and we are well known for having one of the fastest and most stable systems, in key regions such as Asia. The Sucden Financial board is made of experienced leaders with complimentary skillsets and as such I think it is the balance of abilities which have made the company so successful.

Sucden Financial is a company which majors on its own very specific proprietary systems. How has your 8 years at Sucden Financial as Director of Information Systems led the formation of the systems and what is the most important factor surrounding developing in-house systems for institutional transactions such as commodities and raw materials?

A few years ago I gave an external presentation on the “Build vs Buy” arguments, with the pros and cons of each strategy. Putting to one side the higher risk elements of building, I would argue that over the last few years we have been able to develop specific functionality with enhanced stability and risk controls for our worldwide customer base, and retain control of what we consider to be a key differentiator and business driver – our systems. We have started an aggressive expansion programme to ensure these systems will be more than sufficient to cater for our customers’ future trading needs.

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You are joining the board with over 34 years in Information Technology, therefore you have witnessed vast developments. What is the most significant technological advancement in the financial technology sector over the last few years, and what is its value to the industry?

I would not say there is one specific thing, more a number of advancements across different technological and process streams that have led to improvements in resiliency, speed and functionality.

It’s all a matter of trying to sift through things and evaluating the value of doing something that will provide the business with an improvement and a high probability of success – whether that relates to the tightening of our regulatory controls, risk management capability, automation or stability. Sucden Financial is a large established and diversified company; what works well here is not necessarily going to work elsewhere.

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