Opening Cross: Make the Right Entrance and You Won’t Need a Graceful Exit


The ability to make a graceful exit is a talent I don’t have: ask anyone who’s participated in a fire drill with me. Nor, it seems, does the annual SIFMA technology exhibition, which straggles doggedly on this week, despite a much smaller exhibitor list than its heyday, though many feel the show is merely prolonging the ultimately inevitable awkward exit—or at least, an overdue transformation.

Once upon a time, the SIFMA show was the place to be for everyone from the smallest startup to the biggest players: booths were coveted, vendors brought gimmicks and celebrities, and held lavish parties, while absence led to whispers about whether you were still in business.

SIFMA was the place where small, new companies—such as Netherlands-based Addicticks, which has added a scenario builder function to its TRemulator platform that allows users to test applications against simulated Thomson Reuters data, or Empirasign, which has integrated news and commentary from Informa Global Markets into its platform of dealer prices for fixed income assets—could gain exposure to a prized audience of potential partners and customers from the financial technology and market data industries, and where end-user firms could find the innovative new products that otherwise might not cross their radar. Now, you almost need radar just to find the event.

Ironically, radar-like technology is one of the new innovations being used by commodities data vendors to provide more accurate data about supply and demand, based on shipping routes. For example, by monitoring data such as output and operational costs of gold mines, Thomson Reuters can produce more accurate gold price forecasts. And by expanding its network of antennas that monitor the position, speed and direction of shipping tankers, energy supply data vendor Genscape can more accurately predict the impact of real-time supply and demand data on commodities prices.

But sometimes it takes longer for an impact to be felt. For example, a year ago, Inside Market Data reported on Markit’s Federated Chat initiative, part of its suite of Collaboration Services designed to provide a vendor-neutral messaging framework. Initially, the only other vendor participant was Thomson Reuters, but now, one year on, Markit is hailing the decision by S&P Capital IQ to join the initiative as a validation that the service can command broader appeal.

Also celebrating an anniversary is Telx chief executive Chris Downie, who has held the role—first on an interim basis, following the death of predecessor Eric Shepcaro, then on a full-time basis—for just over a year. In this week’s issue (and in an extended Q&A online), Downie describes some of the challenges he’s faced, and some of the opportunities facing the company now and in the future.

While Telx has pursued a domestic US strategy, other providers of trading infrastructure services such as datacenters have targeted further-afield markets, such as Brazil. And it’s in part this interest in the Brazilian market from international traders and data vendors that has prompted Brazilian self-regulatory authority Anbima to construct a feed of fixed income reference prices and accompanying commercial policy specifically for redistribution by vendors, instead of simply posting prices and index levels on its website.

And speaking of Brazil and exits, I wonder which country will be the first to exit the World Cup? While all but one will ultimately lose, none want to think about it. Similarly, no investment firm wants to think that any deal will go south, but for just such an eventuality, consultancy Citisoft has created an “exit strategy and planning service” to help firms mitigate the impact of unexpectedly exiting an outsourcing agreement.

SIFMA used to be the showcase for fintech ninjas. But just like any graceful ninja infiltrating their target knows, a good exit plan is just as important as a stealthy entrance and what you do while in enemy territory. But we should also remember that a proper entrance should ensure that deals never turn into enemy territory.

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