COVID-19 Pandemic Accelerates Fintech Industry’s Transformation to the Cloud, According to Tim Carmody, CTO at IPC, a Network Solutions Provider for Financial Markets

First Published: Crowdfund Insider/April 2020

Tim Carmody, the chief technology officer at IPC, a global provider of communications and networking solutions for the financial markets, recently shared his views and insights with Crowdfund Insider.

Carmody, who has several decades of experience in designing and leading complex technology solutions for the international trading community, discussed how businesses are coping with the ongoing Coronvirus (COVID-19) outbreak. He also talked about the latest Fintech trends.

Crowdfund Insider: What is the current state of financial trading during the COVID-19 pandemic?

Tim Carmody: “We are living through an unprecedented, largely unimaginable black swan event, in which an outbreak is simultaneously impacting all major trading locations around the world.

With regards to BCP (business continuity procedures), many financial institutions do have a physical, backup location in certain regions, but these were primarily intended for localized events and in some cases, augmented across regions.

But most of these plans are predicated on traders commuting or traveling to a firm’s location. Generally, alternative trading locations are, by design, quite a distance from the usual offices, so there are logistical efforts with just getting the employees there. Even if you can, you have to incorporate social distancing rules at that backup location, reducing capacity and efficiency.

Increasingly — and as quarantines continue to be extended — financial institutions have been implementing remote work / work-from-home solutions using the power of a variety of solutions, such as software, VPNs and cloud technology. These previously existed but rolling them out en masse, quickly, with the workforce already dispersed, is of course an enormous undertaking. IPC teams have been working around the clock due to the surge in requests.”

Crowdfund Insider: Can you offer any stats on the increase in requests?

Tim Carmody: “Since the beginning of March, IPC has opened several thousand remote positions as financial services professionals have been forced to leave their offices. We have seen a 45% increase in customer activity, which is all related to remote working solutions.”

Crowdfund Insider: What are some of the challenges with remote work in finance currently?

Tim Carmody: “Of course, security is always a challenge, as remote working solutions are providing access to the myriad systems a trader needs to trade effectively and compliantly. Technologically, IPC is able to address many of these challenges.

One issue is whether a client wants a physical device or a “soft client” (software) platform for their traders. IPC has helped different customers adopt both approaches, providing optimized configurations, guidelines and tools for remote physical devices as well as IPC or partner software solutions.

Our software-only and cloud offerings can be installed on user equipment, and obviously there’s no shipping. Enterprise-wide, cloud-based solutions enable access to trading capabilities anywhere and anytime by recreating a trader’s turret on their screen. While it can’t quite replicate every bell and whistle of a physical turret, ‘soft clients’ do provide significant functionality.”

Crowdfund Insider: Another challenge is ensuring you have access to your community of counterparties, all of whom are also facing challenges in implementing BCP or remote working.

Tim Carmody: “Honestly, the concerns we’re hearing the most from our clients are with respect to their legal departments’ concerns with various regulatory provisions and how best to address them during this unprecedented crisis. But, we’re able to work with our clients and customize the platforms however they’d like.”

Crowdfund Insider: Who are the clients requesting remote work products?

Tim Carmody: “It really runs the gamut — banks, brokers, dealers, inter-dealer brokers and the buy-side. I can say we have implemented remote work solutions for some of the largest multinational financial firms in the world.”

Crowdfund Insider: What types of remote-work products are customers requesting specifically?

Tim Carmody: “We offer several solutions for remote work, including IQ/MAX Omni, which is a remote soft turret solution that provides access to a client’s IPC Unigy system. IPC’s Connexus Cloud private network enables the largest community of voice trading connections and counterparties with Connexus Voice / Enhanced Voice Services with advanced BCP and resiliency.

Also, right before the coronavirus outbreak we launched jointly with our strategic partner Cloud9 Technologies Disaster Recovery as a Service, which is a voice SaaS (Software as a Service) solution that is integrated with Connexus Voice and allows traders to access a virtual trading desk from any location. As mentioned, we have been working with customers with optimized remote turret support for our industry-leading IQ/MAX Touch to any remote location via their firm’s internal VPN capabilities.”

Crowdfund Insider: What is the future of remote work in finance?

Tim Carmody: “Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, remote and/or mobile workforces were clearly the direction almost every industry was headed given the huge advances we’ve seen in enterprise-cloud technology. The financial sector has been slower to adopt them, understandably, given the extra regulatory and security challenges, but really all the COVID-19 pandemic has done is accelerate the industry’s transformation to the cloud, an already ongoing trend.

Although many financial services professionals will of course return to their offices at some point, I suspect some will continue to work remotely even after this emergency ends.”