Searching for Purple Patches and Panem

Anthony Malakian, US Editor, WatersTechnology

Enter into the desperate mind of a columnist as he feebly searches for a FinTech-related topic for this week's BST column.

Working for a UK-headquartered company, you learn all sorts of interesting new words and phrases. This is only compounded by the fact that my editor, Victor Anderson, is originally from South Africa. So I've learned to roll with the punches at all the different terms and expressions.

But even I was left in a state of bewilderment when Victor made reference to a "purple patch". Apparently, a purple patch is a stretch of excellence. So, Lionel Messi scoring 18 goals in eight games prior to Barcelona's shutout draw against AC Milan on Wednesday, is a purple patch, right? Wrong.

A purple patch traditionally comes after a run of mediocrity, and I'm 99 percent sure that there was never a moment when Messi was mediocre at soccer ─ or football...anyway, let's move on.

This brings me to Bats Global Markets and my difficult-to-conceal dislike of my London-based colleague, James Rundle. There's a running joke over here in the US that says that any idea for a story that one of us comes up with has already been thought of by James. The kid is an idea machine. (No truth to the rumor that there will be a bag of doorknobs awaiting him when he comes to NYC for Sifma 2012.)

You see, while at the bar the other night I hand-wrote what was to be this week's column on Bats and how the firm is certain to rebound. Sure, this is more of a sell-side issue, but as you've probably guessed by now, good ideas are pretty much like hens' teeth this week.

The gist of that now dead article was that Bats will survive this rough patch and will eventually find a purple patch of its own. Well, sure enough, James has that covered.

So now what? I could've written about the need for tools that allow for better testing environments that can detect bugs, such as the one that stymied Bats' IPO offering. But I'm going to work on a bigger piece about that and, at present, I haven't done sufficient research to warrant penning that post right now.

I next turned to one of my best friends, who happens to work in the world of FinTech. She recommended that I tie Wall Street to the novel/movie "Hunger Games". Hmmmm, interesting...but there are two problems.

First ─ and this is kind of a major roadblock ─ I haven't seen the movie or read the book. And second, I recently wrote a column on a Zombie apocalypse and FinTech, and you have to spread these things out a bit.

But I'm desperate and I need an idea, so I turn to Wikipedia. Sure enough, there are easy enough analogies to be had.

The fictitious setting of Panem in the Hunger Games is the US ─ surprise, surprise. The Capital is Wall Street. District 12 ─ the coal-rich region ─ is the commodities market. The "tributes" competing in the story are vendors in an over-saturated market. Death is the equivalent of consolidation.

OK, so where in the FinTech industry have we recently seen some consolidation? SS&C Technologies recently bought Portia from Thomson Reuters. Does that make the SS&C Katniss? Is Thomson Reuters Peeta or is it Rue?

You know what, let me watch the movie and I will try this again some other time.

So now what do I write about? Is this what it's like to have a mental breakdown on paper? Or is this the writer's equivalent of drinking ipecac?

How about this: I spoke with JPMorgan this week about its new trading platform in its electronic client solutions group. According to the bank, the platform has a latency of about six microseconds: one microsecond on the switch inbound and outbound and four to five microseconds for pre-trade risk checks and protocol normalization.

This "race to zero" blows my mind. Is it really worth the cost? What's that...Jake already wrote that column? Well at least it wasn't James this time.

If you have any good ideas for future topics, shoot an email to [email protected], tweet me @A_Malakian or ring me at 646-490-3973.

(On a side note, apparently Brits call stairs "apples and pears". Is that not the most ridiculous thing you've ever heard? If you don't believe me, check it out for yourself.)

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