There was never anything tentative about Michael Spencers careerlong drive into the automated future of finance. He says that even 30 to 40 years ago he saw that leadership in financial services goes hand in hand with technology enablement, which in turn is essential for disruption and innovation. By the early 2000s he was in a position to act on those ideas, having created and climbed to the top of the biggest interdealer brokerage, London-based ICAP. The Internet bubble had burst, but Spencers vision of an industry transformed by electronic trading motivated a series of strategic bets an early tone-setter being the $240 million acquisition of fixed-income platform BrokerTec Global in 2003 that he has never hedged. We didnt cut back on investments in technology, even in hard times, says the 60-year-old CEO and the recent postcrisis years of economic and regulatory uncertainty were hard on trading businesses. We are always thinking long-term. Since 2007, ICAP has spent a total of £1.6 billion ($2.3 billion) on technology. In the 12 months ended March 31, new-initiative investments in electronic markets, posttrade and information services rose by £1 million year-over-year, to £43 million. New-wave business lines, including EBS BrokerTec (combining fixed income and foreign exchange) and risk-focused Traiana and TriOptima, are generating three fourths of group profits, which were £229 million pretax in the last fiscal year. As far as ICAP has come in a decade, we still have a long way to go, says Spencer. He uses Euclid Opportunities, a strategic incubation fund ICAP formed in 2011, as a lens on whats next in fintech. So pleased is he with portfolio holdings like OpenGamma (see Mas Nakachi, No. 48) and hedge fund analytics provider ENSO Financial that wed consider investing more, even at higher valuations.
See the full story, The 2015 Tech 50: Racers to the Edge.
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