Grounded as it is in information and money — and information about money — financial services is, was and always will be a technology business. “Good information received in a timely fashion” defined sound banking, the late Citibank chairman Walter Wriston said more than 30 years ago.

But money, banking and capital markets have come a long way from what they were in Wriston’s time, or even a year ago, because technology is advancing so quickly and changing industry and society as it goes.

That is the day-to-day reality for the Tech 50, the visionaries and innovators on Institutional Investor’s annual ranking of financial technology leaders. What sets these executives apart goes beyond their considerable understanding of software applications and system performance as components of corporate strategy. These leaders think big about the global or macro implications of technology-­driven change — from cloud computing and machine learning to emerging sensations like the Apple Watch, cryptocurrencies and the Internet of Things. They relate such developments to their organizations’ and customers’ on-the-ground challenges and opportunities; set budget, investment and R&D priorities; and come up with solutions, to use the technological term of art.

And they put a premium on speed and agility. “It’s all about speed to innovate,” says Robert Alexander (No. 24), chief information officer of Capital One Financial Corp., which last year bought a leading user-­experience design company to accelerate web and mobile app development.

Intercontinental Exchange chairman and CEO Jeffrey Sprecher, repeating in the No. 1 position, brought his company from nowhere to the top of the global exchange world in part because, he says, “technology enabled us to scale quickly.” It also can fail. ICE’s three-and-a-half-hour outage on July 8 was only the latest to affect a major market platform — and demonstrate the importance of two other differentiating qualities: resiliency and recovery.

Catherine Bessant (No. 2), global technology and operations executive at Bank of America Corp., frets that the technology world at large is “moving at the speed of the consumer, not the speed of the enterprise.” The answer? “The best and brightest talent.” Bessant believes that “in conjunction with advanced-state thinking, financial services is magnetic for tech people.” But that means competing against Apple, Google and other name brands. For Bloomberg, one of the biggest and best-regarded development shops in finance, “ability to find talent is the only constraint” to hiring more technologists, says global head of R&D Vlad Kliatchko (No. 6). Citigroup chief innovation officer Deborah Hopkins (No. 8) calls the speed of change “exponential” and “almost violent,” and the necessary strategic response akin to a “lean start-up.” She views her organization’s “200 years of know-how” not as a liability but as something to be leveraged as new and “democratized” business models like the smart-phone economy and the blockchain present new opportunities.

The Tech 50 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 the organization; and pure technological innovation.

Of the 50 entries, 36 return from last year. The returnees’ 2014 ranks are shown, and the rest are designated “PNR” (previously not ranked).

The Tech 50 was compiled under the direction of Senior Contributing Editor Jeffrey Kutler. Individual profiles were written by Kutler; Asia Bureau Chief Allen T. Cheng; Editorial Research Assistant Jess Delaney; Senior Writers Frances Denmark, Julie Segal and Aaron Timms; Associate Editor Kaitlin Ugolik; International Editor Tom Buerkle; and Editor Michael Peltz.


 
The 2015 Tech 50
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1. Jeffrey Sprecher
Intercontinental Exchange
2. Catherine Bessant
Bank of America Corp.
3. Phupinder Gill
CME Group
4. Lance Uggla
Markit
5. Robert Goldstein
BlackRock
6. Shawn Edwards &
Vlad Kliatchko
Bloomberg
7. R. Martin Chavez
Goldman Sachs Group
8. Deborah Hopkins
Citi Ventures
9. Stephen Neff
Fidelity Investments
10. Adena Friedman
Nasdaq OMX Group
11. David Craig
Thomson Reuters
12. Daniel Coleman
KCG Holdings
13. Michael Spencer
ICAP
14. Michael Bodson
Depository Trust & Clearing Corp.
15. Charles Li
Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing
16. Chris Concannon
BATS Global Markets
17. Christopher Perretta
State Street Corp.
18. Antoine Shagoury
London Stock Exchange Group
19. Kevin Rhein
Wells Fargo & Co.
20. Neil Katz
D.E. Shaw & Co.
21. Lee Olesky
Tradeweb Markets
22. Richard McVey
MarketAxess Holdings
23. Seth Merrin
Liquidnet Holdings
24. Robert Alexander
Capital One Financial Corp.
25. Frank Bisignano
First Data Corp.
26. John Marcante
Vanguard Group
27. Joseph Squeri
Citadel
28. Lou Eccleston
TMX Group
29. Claude Honegger
Credit Suisse
30. Chris Corrado
MSCI
31. David Gledhill
DBS Bank
32. John Bates
Software AG
33. Michael Cooper
BT Radianz
34. Gary Scholten
Principal Financial Group
35. Sunil Hirani
trueEX Group
36. Hauke Stars
Deutsche BÖrse
37. Brian Conlon
First Derivatives
38. Jim Minnick
eVestment
39. Lars Seier Christensen & Kim Fournais
40. Tyler Kim
MaplesFS
41. Jim McGuire
Charles Schwab Corp.
42. Steven O'Hanlon
Numerix
43. Sebastián Ceria
Axioma
44. Yasuki Okai
NRI Holdings America
45. Stephane Dubois
Xignite
46. Mazy Dar
OpenFin
47. Brian Sentance
Xenomorph Software
48. Mas Nakachi
OpenGamma
49. John Lehner
BNY Mellon Technology Solutions Group
50. Jock Percy
Perseus