Work-From-Home Comes of Age

Terry Flanagan

In the capital markets space, one silver lining of the Covid-19 health crisis is that technologies that enable remote work are proving their mettle.

In a Friday webinar hosted by Greenwich Associates, Lee Olesky, CEO of New York-based Tradeweb Markets, said effectively the entire company is working from home.

Lee Olesky, Tradeweb

“About 950 people are working remotely, with 100%, or even 100%-plus, productivity,” Olesky said. “If we can keep working remotely and stay connected to clients in our markets, we will continue to identify ways where we can assist clients” to make their workflows more efficient, he said.

As a 22-year-old operator of trading platforms whose competitive advantage has been largely rooted in technology, Tradeweb had a built-in advantage in pivoting to work-from-home, Olesky noted. “Because we’re a technology business and everyone has the benefit of a superb IT team, we’ve had remote capabilities for quite some time. We wanted the ability to take the entire company virtual with no impact on performance or client service, and that’s what we’ve done.”

Many Tradeweb clients are also currently operating home-based, but that hasn’t changed Tradeweb’s connectivity numbers. Olesky said 18,000 trading and investment institutions logged on to Tradeweb’s system in March, in line with monthly numbers from six to nine months ago.

Amid recent extreme levels of volume and volatility in fixed income markets, Tradeweb has held up well, as has the vast majority of institutional market structure. “Our first focus is people, everyone’s health and situation,” Olesky said. “Our second focus is technology, making sure everything’s resilient and operating in a period of stress. We have 300-plus technologists. They’re not doing development right now, the focus is on monitoring systems.” 

Regarding some recent talk that markets should be temporarily closed until the virus situation stabilizes, Olesky does not support the idea. “The way things are functioning right now, it would be a big mistake to limit or shut down, except if something changes,” he said. “Markets are vital. It would add to everyone’s anxiety if they shut.”

Olesky said Tradeweb is a company of innovation. “The core of what we do is focusing on what’s next,” he said. Right now the firm’s priority is to maintain the platform, be accessible to clients, and focus; but Tradeweb employees are starting to at least think about what’s next and how to improve things.

From an operational perspective, the legacy of Covid-19 will be remote technology. “The collaboration that people can accomplish with today’s technology is probably the most positive thing to come out of this,” Olesky said.

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