Witad Awards 2023: Vendor professional of the year—Keri Neo, Tradeweb

Keri Neo, head of equities for Asia-Pacific at Tradeweb, is a champion of the adoption of electronic trading in the Asia-Pacific region. Throughout her career, she has witnessed how adopting digital workflows benefited institutional investors in Europe and the US, allowing firms to access deeper liquidity and more competitive pricing, achieve operational efficiencies, cut costs, and navigate growing regulatory oversight of best execution. She felt that Asia-based institutions were missing out on these benefits. So, since joining Tradeweb in 2021, she has taken the opportunity to help the firm’s local clients along their electronification journey.

“It’s particularly rewarding to see local institutions reap the benefits of automated execution, such as our time release functionality, which enables them to schedule their transactions at a time when they can meet their investment objectives,” she says.   

She continues this work, particularly in enhancing access to ETF liquidity via electronic request-for-quote (RFQ) trading. Within her first year of joining Tradeweb, volumes in ETF trading from Asia clients grew more than 50% year on year.

One of the challenges hindering ETF liquidity among institutional investors and ETF market-makers in the region is that ETF usage and e-trading adoption lags behind Europe and the US. Neo adds that the region has no regulatory impetus to move from voice to electronic execution.

Still, electronification within the region will continue to advance, given that many firms are global and will strive to adopt global best practices. Neo says education and communication are the core of any advocacy work. “It’s important to listen to both buy- and sell-side clients’ pain points, share solution ideas that can address them, and constantly strive to turn these ideas into viable tools that are tailored to their requirements,” she says.

Like many others, Neo found it challenging to adapt to remote working due to the pandemic. For someone whose role depends on building close relationships with clients, not being able to meet clients in person was difficult. But she took it as an opportunity to showcase the advantages of electronic trading to clients who needed better and more efficient ways to complete transactions.

With more than 15 years’ experience in listed securities and derivatives at the Singapore Exchange before joining Tradeweb, Neo was able to pull stakeholders within the ETF industry and connect the dots more effectively. This involved dealing with ETF issuers, their capital markets teams, ETF market-makers, authorized participants, and institutional and retail clients. “In the electronic trading business, change ultimately boils down to partnerships and relationships,” she says.

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