Opening Cross: ‘Manning’ the Booth at SIFMA

Max Bowie, editor, Inside Market Data

What follows is an entirely imaginary conversation that could occur between any two famous brothers, one of whom may have recently headlined a major industry event. I’ve given them imaginary names to conceal their identities.

Peyton: Hey baby bro, how was that STIFMA event you went to last week?

Eli: It’s SIFMA, dude. It’s a trade association supporting participants in the financial markets. Wall Street is such an important part of the New York economy that I wanted to do my part, help raise morale, and hopefully impart some nuggets of wisdom about true leadership. I hear that’s why they didn’t ask you to speak.

Peyton: I heard it sucked worse than your throwing. And that you had to pay to get in.

Eli: Actually, they paid me to attend. But there were a lot of people in the pub watching the Euro 2012 championships.

Peyton: The what?

Eli: Never mind. Look, I know a lot of people have been quick to bury SIFMA, but it isn’t dead yet. It may be on life support, with people sticking knives in its back, but it’s still an important venue for companies to get exposure for all the smart stuff they’re doing—especially smaller companies that can’t afford to do shows all over the place and find it harder to get exposure to all the financial firms here in New York. And if you went around and actually spoke to people, they’re doing some pretty cool stuff. Like the guys from Narrative Science, for example, who take raw data and use computer algorithms to turn it into news stories or commentary. They could take all my game stats and turn them into my life story just by pushing a button.

Peyton: Good to know. I’ve been looking for a cure for my insomnia.

Eli: And since they’re all about the data, I’m sure the resulting story would take pains to note my two Superbowl rings, compared to my less famous brother’s single ring. Speaking of bling, the Gigamon booth was particularly awesome, I found out that SIX Telekurs has changed its name to SIX Financial Information, and Morningstar had a booth with a wall of disco lights.

Peyton: You mean the guys who make the veggie burgers?

Eli: I didn’t know SIX made veggie burgers. Anyway, what really impressed me was the guys at Wedbush Securities and Lime Brokerage. They did a deal with an FPGA appliance vendor called NovaSparks for low-latency market data feeds—I read about it in Inside Market Data—but they were telling me about their order execution latency and their pre-trade risk checks, and man, the latency is like nothing. I’m talking less than half a microsecond. And speaking of IMD, did you know their reporter Vicki Chan won a pair of Bose headphones from Exegy for guessing closest to the peak volume of market data traffic on Wednesday?

Peyton: That reminds me, I need some new headphones for target practice. I use that old photo of you as a target. Were there any guns at this show?

Eli: It wasn’t a gun show, although Hudson Fiber did have guns that fired suction-cup darts onto a map of all their datacenters. They also broke out free beer early for all their clients, as well as the folks from their partner, Vello, who shared space at their booth. And you know what? It reminded me of the old days, when SIFMA was all about friendly competition and meeting up with long-lost colleagues and having fun at insane parties in suites upstairs at the Hilton or in top bars, restaurants and galleries—back when Quotron had the corner booth by the entrance.

Peyton: You were in diapers when Quotron had the corner booth. But anyway, I hear you were a hit, so kudos to you. Maybe they’ll have you back next year, if there is a next year.

Eli: Thanks, just stop patting me on the butt, okay? What is it with you football types, whenever someone does something good, you pat them on the butt? That’s just weird.

Peyton: You think I enjoy it? Where’s my FiberMedia hand sanitizer…?

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