The corporate sector has no monopoly on cloud computing, machine learning, or any other trend in technology. By the end of 2016, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority had moved 90 percent of its data to the Amazon Web Services cloud, and the rest will be done this year. "We are recognized as one of the leaders in implementing AWS," boasts FINRA chief information officer Steven Randich. A onetime managing principal of IBM Global Services who has been a CIO of the Chicago Stock Exchange, Nasdaq, and Citigroup, the 54-year-old is running a real technology shop: Some firms are paying FINRA for assistance in making similar transitions. Other regulators "want to get on the cloud and partner with us to build shared applications," Randich says, though he is not far enough along to name names.
His Washington-based self-regulatory and market surveillance agency takes in an average of 50 billion market events a day trades, trade cancellations, and quote changes; it's not unusual for FINRA to deal with rows of data totaling in the trillions. To get better and faster at finding needles in those haystacks, Randich is working on machine learning systems that can identify patterns of market manipulation more effectively than existing automated methods that throw up too many false positives. Algorithms perform the surveillance and kick out the data for humans to act on. "Innovation is key to our business as a regulator," says Randich, a University of Chicago MBA who has been with FINRA since March 2013. "Financial markets have become very electronic. The only way to catch the bad guys is through sophisticated technology."
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