Key Takeaways from ETAS 2016

Regulation, machine learning and millennials were some of the key topics addressed at this year’s European Trading Architecture Summit.

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While the European Trading Architecture Summit is a primarily sell-side focused event, there was still plenty for buy-side firms to think about. John shares three key takeaways from this year’s event.

1. Regulation Still Dominates Thinking

It's no real surprise that the main driver of technology investment and strategy going into 2017 is regulation, regardless of which side of the Street you're on.

Attention has swung back to preparing for Mifid II recently, and in a poll of delegates, just under half of respondents said that regulatory compliance is having the biggest impact on the financial services industry.

Almost every panel throughout the day touched on regulatory issues and compliance at one point or another, whether it was the burgeoning "regtech" space (a topic tackled in this week's Waters Wavelength podcast), data management strategies or the problems that distributed-ledger technologies may cause for regulators in the future.

On a slightly more concerning note, a poll of delegates during the Mifid II panel was asked: "Did postponement of MiFID II to January 2018 delay or stop your firm's implementation program or did it make no difference because you hadn't begun?" Just under half of respondents admitted that they had yet to start preparations for the regulation. Worrying.

2. Machine Learning Only Set to Grow

It's something we here at Waters have known for a while, but our opinions were confirmed yesterday by the widespread interest in the growth of machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) technologies.

While moderating the day's panel discussion on the topic it was clear that there is much more to be said on this topic than would fit into a 40-minute slot, while the sheer volume of different questions coming from the audience covered issues such as the human element involved in adopting machine learning, whether AI is able to drive innovation, what risks are involved from a process and operational perspective, and the difficulties of finding the right talent to implement and maintain these kinds of technologies.

3. Millennial Tech Talent Is the Future

Millennials seem to be the go-to punching bag for much of the world's problems in the mainstream press, but there was a very different mind-set presented at ETAS this year. The generation that has been labeled entitled, spoiled and work-shy was cited as the future of capital markets' technology and the driving force behind innovation.

Joerg Guenther, CTO EMEA at Northern Trust, gave the afternoon's keynote speech and highlighted how the bank is harnessing the potential of collaboration between its senior leadership and tech-savvy youngsters with innovation labs, hackathons and projects with fintech startups.

Watch out for more in-depth coverage of this year's European Trading Architecture Summit over the next few days.

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