Final Thoughts on FIA Boca 2015

From portfolio compression to outages to CLOBs, some emergent themes from FIA Boca.

Anthony Malakian, US Editor, Waters &

Anthony runs through some of the themes that developed out of his time at the FIA Boca 2015 event.

While I was down in Florida for this year's FIA Boca conference, I had about 15 one-on-one meetings, in addition to ducking into a few panels.

On the panel side of things, if I'm being honest, there wasn't much technology discussed. Sure, the word "technology" was thrown around, but only in the loosest sense. As an example, there was a panel on the standardization of automated trading that I sat in on, which was looking at a soon-to-be-released report from the FIA Market Technology Division.

I had to leave 25 minutes in to get to another meeting, so I'm not sure what happened over the last 35 minutes. But in that first half, there was a lot of talk around the reasoning for the study and market structure issues, but not a whole lot on actual technological needs/deficiencies around pre-trade risk controls, post-trade reviews and recording keeping, or standards for software development, testing and validation. I'm sure the report will delve into these issues ─ and perhaps they got to it after I left ─ but this wasn't a technology conference and they probably didn't want to scare people off.

Even with that said, I found this conference to be very tech-heavy once away from the panel discussions.

First of all, it was a sleek and expansive conference (and expensive...I can only imagine the total price spent on the event and various parties and other sponsored gimmicks). They also put some big names up on stage ─ CFTC chair Timothy Massad, the CEOs of the CME Group, Intercontinental Exchange, Singapore Exchange, Eurex, and numerous other regulators, bank, clearinghouse and (even a few) buy-side execs.

While all that was great, for me, those individual meetings were the best part. Each conversation was different and touched on a different part of the market. So while I can't write a definitive wrap-up of everything that I saw and heard, here are some quick-hitters, some of which I've already written about, some of which will be written about later, and some of which are just random things that I came across.

* As stated before, Singapore Exchange (SGX) CEO Magnus Bocker was in the house. In June, Bocker is stepping down. Three separate sources have said to me ─ to one extent or the other ─ that he (and not the board) is simply "tired" and that he's looking for a change. But in another conversation, the SGX is distinctly aware of the fact that it suffered three outages last year and that it needs to improve its reputation moving forward if it wants to keep pace with its neighboring, and growing, exchanges in the Asia-Pacific region.

* To that last point, International Securities Exchange (ISE) president and CEO, Gary Katz, claimed that his company will absolutely be ready for Reg SCI's November 3, 2015, compliance date. It is also ready to unveil its new marketplace, hopefully in Q3 of this year.

* Eaton Vance's director of global trading, Michael O'Brien said that, "If we can't get order books going on SEFs, then SEFs can't be considered a success." CFTC chair Massad has said that it is looking to bring anonymity for the buy side to SEF order books, though he didn't have more to add at FIA Boca. Much more on this to come.

* In a panel on Thursday, clearing house heads from LCH.Clearnet and CME Group warned against standardized stress testing for clearing houses. LCH.Clearnet CEO David Weisbrod noted: "We agree with the goal [of stress testing] and we want to incorporate all the necessary detail so that we don't reduce it to the lowest denominator and inadvertently create more risk than we're trying to address," which might be the output with standardization.

I'll be writing about this tomorrow, but my colleague over on Risk, Peter Madigan, beat me to the punch, if you want more on that right now.

* For clearing houses, portfolio compression is taking on greater emphasis. Last week, the CME Group announced that it's teaming with TriOptima for multilateral compression. But Sunil Cutinho, president of CME Clearing, says that the real tech challenge comes into play for coupon compression.

* For the London Stock Exchange, the main focus has been around Mifid II mandates, according to Nicholas Bertrand, head of equity & derivatives markets. Once again, more on this to come later this week. But everyone I spoke with who was based in Europe was keen to talk about Mifid, more so than what I hear nowadays on Dodd-Frank.

Keep on checking our "FIA Boca 2015" tag for all our stories that came out of the conference as they're added.

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