CEO CHAT: Bob Santella, IPC
Running a technology and communication firm in the 21st century is not easy, just ask IPC Chief Executive Officer Bob Santella. In a recent conversation with Traders Magazine editor John D’Antona Jr., Santella described the myriad challenges his firm faces daily in meeting the needs of clients and the type of help required to keep workflows moving.
What are some of the issues today’s traders and IPC’s customers face?
The challenges of our financial markets customers today are multifold and reflect a confluence of geopolitical events co-mingled with regulatory shifts and changes that continue to influence the cadence of the financial markets across the globe. At the same time, digital transformation and the everyday integration of technology in our lives has had an impact on financial workplace cultures and structures, compelling them to be much more adaptable, mobile and to a certain degree, deconstructed. No matter where traders are they must be able to communicate and transact confidently and securely — front, middle and back-office needs for collaboration are essential. Flexibility and mobility, speed, access to liquidity and information, optimizing data — these are inherent in the communications issues our customers, including traders, face today.
How does regulation play into all of this? How does IPC help to address regulatory issues?
We live and breathe the financial markets, so we know the implications of compliance on our customers’ intricate communications, security and scalability challenges. Our customers rely on IPC for solutions and services that are purpose-built for compliance and ensure they are capturing, archiving, retaining and accessing critical communications, and can quickly adapt to any regulatory changes. We closely align with FINRA, the FIA and vital regulatory authorities around the world, staying one step ahead of issues so we can anticipate changes on the horizon and advise our customers before they become insurmountable challenges.
The amount of data traders access and generate is massive and is growing exponentially – how does IPC help support traders in managing their data streams?
Data is the lifeblood of the financial markets, but it is so vast and omnipresent, if not harnessed properly, it can be unwieldy and hinder workflow. We aim to help traders extract from data the power to be more efficient, more effective and gain a competitive advantage. Our ecosystem provides connectivity to one of the largest, most diverse portfolios of market exchanges, pricing data and information, so that from sun up to sundown around the world and across geographies, financial firms can share information using intuitive tools in order to access liquidity. We’ve partnered with companies like RANsquawk, which provides traders with voice and text financial news feeds to customers using our Unigy 360 platform.
We’re also working with Cboe Global Markets, Inc. and CME Group to empower investors with cryptocurrency trade data as new digital asset classes like Bitcoin, Ether and other offerings gain greater acceptance and those markets flourish. And at the same time, with our partner GreenKey Technologies, we’re optimizing voice data through natural language processing and using this artificial intelligence technology, giving traders an opportunity to feed a multitude of information — real-time pricing data, instant message and voice call transcripts, in-stream orders and quotes, for example — into compliance, surveillance, business and CRM systems.
How do technologies like blockchain, artificial intelligence and the cloud play into the workflow of the modern financial market participant?
No matter which technologies emerge, for our customers it is still about business success, which again, is tied to mobility, scalability, security, compliance and cost. Our award-winning Unigy 360 cloud-based software-as-a-service checks all of these boxes in that it is a single platform that unifies communications across an organization, whether a trader, analyst or risk manager. When it comes to blockchain, we are exploring how we can provide our vast community of more than 6,600 financial markets participants with an open source blockchain application they can then use for secure transactions with counterparties. Artificial intelligence encompasses a wide swath of technologies, so we hone in on where it can accelerate and smooth communications, automate and streamline workflows. That is why IPC partners with GreenKey Technologies, a collaboration that leapfrogs lengthy and risky development processes to leverage artificial intelligence and natural language processing technologies for Unigy 360, integrating voice across application and instant message services all with the goal of further improving trader workflow efficiencies.
How has IPC’s business changed over the last year and where do you see it going into 2019 and beyond?
It has been an exciting year and as we look to 2019, we see tremendous opportunities. I took the helm at IPC earlier this year as we continued to accelerate the global deployment of Unigy 360, our award-winning cloud-based software-as-a-service platform. This bold embrace of the cloud has led to compelling engagement with technology innovators that empower our customers. This allows us to give them useful and innovative tools on a reliable, secure ecosystem. Then you have exciting emerging asset classes like cryptocurrency energizing markets, but at the same time extremely volatile and in their nascent stages, making pricing data and market information even more critical. When it comes to exchanges, changes around the world such as Brexit, for example, have impacted trading behaviors and as a result, there has been both consolidation and expansion.
Among exchange communities, IPC is facilitating the increasingly fast speed-to-market strategies, enabling customers to quickly connect to and test new geographic markets — across countries comprising over 80 percent of the global GDP, including emerging and frontier markets such as China, Russia, Turkey, South Korea, Taiwan, Vietnam and the United Arab Emirates. And through its Connexus Cloud, IPC customers have greater access to market data across multiple asset classes, including the fast-developing cryptocurrency market (through Cboe Global and CME Group feeds).
Is there a new initiative IPC can share with Traders Magazine’s readers? What is the next big thing?
At IPC we are focused on transforming the industry. We do this by being entrenched in our customers’ businesses and looking at ways we can expand their opportunities by building on our already significant initiatives. So while I can’t reveal anything now, you will see IPC continue to partner with the most compelling market exchanges, data providers and technology innovators worldwide, to give traders and financial markets firms the flexibility, mobility, speed, access to liquidity and information and ability to optimize data that they need to prosper in this dynamic and changing environment.
2019 will be the year of artificial intelligence and blockchain.
Technology makes illiquid pricing more science than art.
Financial services looks to productivity-based measurements and initiatives.
Fintech exec Stu Taylor notes demand for 'AI as a Service'.
IBM dips its toe into algorithmic trading.