Financial firms and markets have always been awash in
data. Now managing and making sense of it has become a business
in itself, and the industrys top technological innovators
are aggregating data and deploying advanced analytical tools to
set themselves apart.
Are financial services companies really information
technology companies? They are certainly IT-driven; the biggest
banks and buy-side firms each budget billions of dollars
annually for IT and employ thousands, in some cases tens of
thousands, of software engineers and other technologists.
Amid the explosion in what is commonly known as big data,
the financial technology leaders spotlighted in
Institutional Investors Tech 40 are underlining
the I in IT.
This years elite include exchange company executives
like Nasdaqs Adena Friedman, No. 1 following her
elevation to CEO and the implementation of a new architecture
called the Nasdaq Financial Framework; Intercontinental
Exchange (ICE) chairman and CEO Jeffrey Sprecher (No. 4); and
CBOE Holdings president and COO Chris Concannon (No.15). They
and heads of non-exchange trading venues, such as fixed-income
platforms MarketAxess Holdings (Richard McVey, No. 23) and
Tradeweb Markets (Lee Olesky, No. 22), point out that they have
been selling data products all along. But the volumes are
unprecedented; customers are demanding more, better, and faster
analytics and insights; and technologies are emerging and
evolving to fill the bill.
Friedman notes that data and computing speed fueled online
brokerage and automated trading, starting in the 1990s.
What is different today is the ability to utilize data,
to take advantage of greater processing capability and network
capacity, she says.
It seems like a lot of people are just waking up to
the data story it has always been a focus of ours,
says Concannon, a former Nasdaq colleague of Friedmans
who joined CBOE when it acquired Bats Global Markets, where he
was CEO, in February.
Sprecher has described ICE as a network and
content business. In 2015, ICE acquired Interactive Data
Corp., now part of the ICE Data Services unit, which accounted
for a third of last years $5.96 billion in total
revenues. ICE is not alone among Tech 40 companies
others are Bloomberg (Shawn Edwards and Vlad Kliatchko, No. 6)
and London Stock Exchange Group (Chris Corrado, No. 31)
in bulking up its index business through acquisitions.
Another major index player, IHS Markit (Lance Uggla, No. 5),
is explicitly a big-data and analytics company; the financial
industryfocused Markit merged last year with IHS to form
the $3.5 billion-in-revenues, self-styled information
powerhouse with 50,000 corporate and government
The 2017 Tech 40
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Mike Chinn (No. 30), president of S&P Global Market
Intelligence, draws a distinction between data and analytics:
A spreadsheet is data. A model that gets you to a
decision is analytics.
Michael Spencer (No. 8), who built ICAP into the
worlds biggest interdealer brokerage, has sold off the
traditional voice business and now runs NEX Group, a fintech
company consisting of two principal parts: the NEX Markets
trading platforms and NEX Optimisation, formerly ICAPs
post-trade risk and information services division, which
includes life cycle management and information services
to optimize portfolios, control risk, and reduce
Capital markets firms got a head start in complex analytics
with the high-performance kdb+ database developed by Kx
Systems, a subsidiary of First Derivatives, and now other
sectors like aerospace and pharmaceuticals are catching on.
We are making substantial investments in R&D,
marketing, and direct and indirect sales channels to bring our
technology to new markets, says Kx and First Derivatives
CEO Brian Conlon (No. 36).
The Tech 40 ranking was compiled by Institutional Investor
editors and staff, with nominations and input from industry
participants and experts. Four primary sets of attributes were
evaluated: achievements and contributions over the course of a
career; scope and complexity of responsibilities; influence and
leadership inside and outside an organization; and pure
Of the 40 entries, 31 were in the Tech 50 ranking last year.
Their 2016 ranks are shown, and the rest are designated
PNR (previously not ranked).
The Tech 40 was compiled under the direction of Senior
Contributing Editor Jeffrey Kutler. Individual profiles were
written by Kutler, Asia Bureau Chief Allen T. Cheng, and Senior
Writers Imogen Rose-Smith and Julie Segal.