Focus Bonds MCA Winners


When Markets Media CEO Mohan Virdee sat down with five of the 35 winners of the 2017 Markets Choice Awards to discuss the future of fintech, the answer was one word, “workflow.”

Workflows in and between the buy and sell side continue to change at a rapid pace, said Scott DePetris, president & COO at Portware, and whose firm won the award for the best buy-side EMS.  “We have spent the past 15 years solving these workflows and things on the trading desk are changing.”

The increasing level of automation continues to challenge the high- and low-touch traders, agreed Chris Valpone, head of sales, Americas at Fidessa and whose firm took home the award for best OMS.

James Benincasa, senior vice president at Flextrade Systems and whose firm won for best new product and best multi-asset EMS, sees the changes as an opportunity.

“There are plenty of areas in the industry that are ripe for automation and optimization by using technology and embedding new technologies like block chain or artificial intelligence,” he added.

Larry Thompson, vice chair of the Depository Trust & Clearing Corp. and winner of this year’s life-time achievement award, summed up the group’s consensus as an imperative; “We need to be looking at technology as a solver for problems in the financial industry.”

Thompson considers his firm as one of the original fintech companies, adding “We solve problems using technology in the financial industry and that’s what we’re going to continue to do.”

From the vendor perspective, “it is about making the workflow easier for traders with the infomration they need and be able to handle the orders and applying compliance correctly,” Fidessa’s Valpone. “I think across the buy side and the sell side there are a lot of things that you have to bring to that equation and value. You have to look at the trends, figure out what is really worth going after, and what brings value to the client so that they can get the biggest bang for the buck.”

For Portware, addressing the workflow challenges includes embedding artificial intelligence into his company’s EMS platform that allows it to expand its coverage.

“In addition to embedding the AI, we are going back into portfolio management, compliance, order management, order creation and drill down into investor reporting,” he said.

However, supporting the buy and sell sides’ order and execution management needs is tough mantel to wear, according to Flextrade’s Benincasa.

“They are two very demanding client sets to solve for,” he said. “But we have our global footprint, increased our hiring, and we will be ready to attack anything that comes to us.”

Firms do not need to face these challenges alone, noted Diana Kearns-Manolatos, director of communication  at industry consultancy Synechron and whose firm won the award for best new initiative for its Synechron Blockchain Initiative. “As a consultancy we have  good view of what fintech is doing to the market now.”

This digital transformation happening in financial services means many things to many people, she added. “But it is what is driving change forward, whether it is blockchain, AI, cloud, or other technologies.”

Due to this transformation, Synechron launched six blockchain accelerators that address industry use cases, such as trade financing, trade processing, know-your-client functions, and others, to help further foster the digital transformation within financial services and has reached a point where some of the projects have graduated from their respective accelerators.

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