Chicago, not the typical venue for a FISD Real Time Technology event, we are much more familiar with New York and London. I love London and New York, but Chicago was a breath of fresh air for me. We at FISD are making a very conscious effort to vary the geographic spread of our events and I wholeheartedly believe that variety is the spice of life. Organising an event in Chicago posed certain obstacles but those were far outweighed by the opportunities. I learned that the Chicago market is substantively different from both London and New York, the major bulge bracket firms while no doubt having some presence are not the main cut and thrust of Chicago; smaller and more nimble ‘Prop Shops’ are the lifeblood of this city. I also discovered that many of these ‘Prop Shops’ had been founded by ex CME floor traders who wanted to spread their wings a little, and in some cases a lot. Derivatives are what Chicago is best known for and that might have been the original specialty of these creative and adventurous operations, but in 2012 they have a much more diverse portfolio of interests.
The conference, kindly hosted by Morningstar at their stunning HQ on West Washington Street, deep within ‘The Loop’, pulled in an eclectic audience of nearly 100. They listened to a number of varied presentations, and a very informative and animated panel discussion moderated by Paul Rowady of TABB Group. The five panelists probed the question of seeking ROI and Alpha in a world where High-Frequency Trading (HFT) is now in some ‘political’ quarters considered a dirty phrase and where the never ending march to zero latency is begging serious questions of both saturation and the law of diminishing returns. Amongst our presentations Ganesh Iyer of IPC made a very well received and above all educational exposition on the way forward for the trade lifecycle of OTC Derivatives offering interpretations of some of the recent G20 initiatives and subsequent regulations such as Dodd Frank. Ganesh’s conclusions included observations that there would be a much greater need for transparency in these markets leading to greater amounts of market data and a growing need for interconnectivity within and across the whole market ecosystem. Henrique Hablitschek of Equinix offered a vision of the new world of Big Data and the growing use of, and need for, cloud-based services and storage. Brad Firminger of MDSL presented an interesting and very pertinent pitch about using inventory control tools to manage cost control/containment – expertly illustrated at one point by his ‘disco’ dance moves (in the style of watching your Dad dance at a wedding) - you really had to be there to get the full effect!
The event wrapped up with convivial cocktails and wonderful and plentiful food served in US style portions; as a Brit I always worry what my American friends think of the delicate nibbles we lay on at our London events. Conversation and networking continued well into the evening although many eventually left to go home and watch Barack and Mitt slug it out in the first Presidential Debate. Hopefully our 90 minutes of industry debate that afternoon was a good warm up for the more (only slightly more) broader debate that ensued in Denver later that night - I for one am already looking forward to a return visit to The Windy City.
David Anderson is the Real Time Technology Roundtable Program Director at FISD. David can be reached at email@example.com
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