For years the securities trading industry has been on a war footing: a relentless arms race to reduce transaction times to as few milliseconds or microseconds as the laws of physics will allow. But these days, whether because ultralow latency has for most practical purposes been achieved or because war weariness has set in, the executives on trading technology’s front lines have other critical issues on their minds.
“Everybody is still trying to get faster and shave microseconds,” notes Edwin Marcial, chief technology officer of IntercontinentalExchange Group. Marcial takes the top spot in the Trading Technology 40, Institutional Investor’s annual ranking of the leading technologists and innovators in the trading systems world, and surely speed has something to do with it: ICE says it completes more than 99 percent of transactions in less than 20 milliseconds during peak periods. Nasdaq OMX Group (see Bradley Peterson, No. 9), Canada’s TMX Group (Brenda Hoffman, No. 20) and London Stock Exchange Group’s MillenniumIT (John Mackay [Mack] Gill, No. 22), among others, make “fastest platform” claims.
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Yet latency “is not talked about as much,” Marcial observes. “Maybe to some degree people are tired of it. It’s more the norm now.”
Marcial personifies how other matters have come to the fore. Most obvious are priorities related to his company’s November merger with NYSE Euronext. Fully integrating the two behemoths into something bigger and more market-structure-altering than they could have been on their own will likely take two to three years, Marcial says. While ICE-NYSE and other consolidations, notably BATS Global Markets–Direct Edge (Chris Isaacson, No. 8) and Getco–Knight Capital Group (Jonathan Ross, No. 4), play out, CEOs and CTOs are all too aware of what can happen when systems break down, and of the increasingly watchful eyes of regulators like the Securities and Exchange Commission (Gregg Berman, No. 11). “Reliability is what we’ve always been about — it has to be a given,” says Marcial. “Any time you go down, it is front-page news.”
The Trading Tech 40 were selected by Institutional Investor editors, taking into account input from industry experts. The leadership criteria include contributions to companies and the industry at large, scope of responsibilities and pure technological innovation. Last year’s rankings are shown in parentheses; newcomers are denoted “PNR” (previously not ranked).
The ranking was compiled under the direction of Senior Contributing Editor Jeffrey Kutler. Individual profiles were written by Kutler; Editor Michael Peltz; Asia Bureau Chief Allen T. Cheng; Senior Writers Frances Denmark, Julie Segal and Aaron Timms; and Associate Editor Ben Baris.
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