Ten years ago the markets were in the middle of a significant downturn. As of March 2008, the FTSE 100 was at 5776 and the Dow 30 was at 14,237. Both indices had more pain to come, as the full extent of the financial crisis came to light. Of course, after a storm there is a period of reflection and it was during this period that the members of FIX Protocol Ltd. (as the organisation was known then) thought it would be an interesting idea to hold an event in London. The event would be self-funding with sponsors and exhibitors paying fees. Ticket prices would reflect the non-profit status of the organisation, allowing as many people to attend as possible. The agenda for the day would be put together by the members with speakers chosen for their subject matter expertise as opposed to their ability to make a sales pitch.
So, with these simple but effective guidelines, the EMEA Trading Conference was born. Ten years is a short amount of time in life terms, but a long time in the financial markets. The event has grown over the years as the FIX Trading Community has grown. However, it has managed to maintain that original formula of collaboration in a relaxed atmosphere. The spiritual home of Old Billingsgate lends to the ambience and provides the perfect backdrop for a day of networking, learning and debate.
Looking back over the past ten years, there are a number of recurring themes on previous agendas. For example, the ability of the buy side to become more active in the business, from helping to shape regulation to making decisions about technology. With the dawn of MiFID II earlier this year, that seems to have advanced significantly with the buy side taking responsibility for both technology and interaction with regulators.
Another theme has been Best Execution – is it an art or science? The concept of best execution in evolving European capital markets continues to challenge firms. Along with the shifting of roles within order execution in capital markets this accentuates the challenges in delivering best execution. Now best execution is mandated by ESMA and execution reports are required. Execution Venues, buy side and sell side will have to publish details to produce a report on a quarterly basis for every single trade.
Cybersecurity has long been a major concern for financial markets, and has found itself discussed year on year at FIX EMEA. The discussion and sharing of information is incredibly important. Is the overall landscape improving or deteriorating? What is the nature of threats and what is the response to them? Of course, FIX Trading Community has provided guidelines on this earlier in the year, which will be reviewed and discussed in one of the sessions at FIX EMEA this year.
The evolution of the bond market has long been a popular subject for debate at FIX EMEA, and it has not been without its own controversial points. Additionally, the perennial discussion comparing the ongoing evolution of fixed income trading to the past evolution of cash equity trading has developed into something more detailed, as the market realised that you can’t shoehorn one asset class into another. The debate will continue but with some different points, once again post MiFID II go-live.
As mentioned at the top, the event has grown significantly over the past ten years. Attendance has more than doubled with more sponsors also exhibiting. However, the spirit and ethos have remained firmly the same. The calibre and expertise of FIX EMEA speakers marks the event down as a must attend. The 2018 event will be no different. Tilman Lüder, Head of the Securities Market Unit, European Commission will be the keynote speaker in the morning, as we learn what the regulators have made of the first three months of MiFID II. He will then be joined on stage by a number of EU Regulators from across Europe as well as the Co-chairs of the FIX Regulatory Subcommittee.
Regulation will be a recurring theme at this year’s event but not at the expense of other topics. It would be naïve to ignore what this year has brought to the markets with MiFID II. However, there is demand to find out what is new and innovative. The session on Primary Markets: The Evolution to Greater Electronic Standards, will see panellists discuss the growth and evolution of Corporate new issuance and the electronification of process, a theme first raised by FIX members a number of years ago which lead to the IPO Initiative.
Continuing with the innovation theme, over the last decade, capital markets firms have had to respond to many regulatory challenges and new business requirements. This, in turn, has evoked significant technology developments to improve performance, drive efficiencies and modernise legacy infrastructure to be able to sustain their role in the new ecosystem. At this year’s FIX EMEA event, a panel will discuss how a growing demand for digitalisation is shaping the next wave of transformation in capital markets. How will new technologies such as big data, Machine Learning (ML), Artificial Intelligence (AI), Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT) and Robotic Process Automation improve performance, drive efficiencies and modernise legacy infrastructure?
The day will close with a keynote speech by Sir Geoff Hurst MBE. Geoff will always be best known for scoring the hat-trick in England’s 1966 World Cup Final triumph. His achievement has never been matched. Geoff speaks about his experiences in football, how the game has changed since his time, and the extraordinary experience of lifting the Jules Rimet trophy alongside fellow greats like Bobby Moore, Gordon Banks and Bobby and Jackie Charlton.
And that will conclude the day. Months of preparation all concluded in a few hours. I use the analogy of a wedding to describe the day – everyone wants the day to go well and works together to ensure it does.
We encourage you to find out more about the event here.