Robert Sloans CV has a certain coincidental symmetry. Before a Wall Street career distinguished by the launch of Credit Suisse First Bostons prime brokerage and the pioneering CSFB/Tremont Hedge Fund Index, Sloan worked as a translator for Japans Ministry of International Trade and Industry. Today, Sloan and S3 Partners, the New Yorkbased company he founded in 2003, engage in translation of a different sort. Every firm speaks its own language in processing, managing and analyzing data, he says: There is a foreign language element to it. S3, which Sloan began solo with just an idea, has grown into a 40-person, international financial technology, advisory and analytics firm dedicated to standardizing and streamlining data and work flows for hedge funds and other clients. Technology companies want to be services firms, and vice versa, says the 52-year-old managing partner. We are both, and that makes us unique. S3 pulled those capabilities together in creating Blacklight, a two-year-old software-as-a-service a counterparty intelligence analytics platform, or dedicated service through technology, as Sloan describes it. Currently serving $1.4 trillion of assets, the platform is designed to improve buy- and sell-side trading relationships; its data and analytics free the players to focus on capital and balance-sheet efficiency rather than on system mechanics and translations. Animating Blacklight are the Basel III capital rules and other postcrisis reforms, which have upended traditional trading, collateral and liquidity dynamics. Sloan sees this as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for reinvention, particularly for the buy side. Asset managers need access to the power grid to trade, he says, employing a favored metaphor. Electricity is expensive and becoming more expensive.
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