Post event reviews are a difficult topic to write about, even more so when it is one of your own events. Given that we are predominantly a volunteer and member driven body, there could be a slight danger of sycophancy and back-slapping. Our events are billed correctly as “for the industry, by the industry”. The members put together the agenda and speakers. There is no self-promotion, no “pay-to-play” and no sales pitches. There is debate, there is healthy discussion and there is even disagreement on certain topics. Thankfully, the networking drinks at the end of the day allow for the disagreements to be sorted out amicably.
This was the 8th year for the annual FIX EMEA Trading Conference. The event has grown into one of Europe’s largest one-day trading events. By numbers alone, the event can be deemed a success with a record number of delegates (close to 900) attending, representing 22 countries from across the globe. The two key note speakers that started and ended the day, Sir Vince Cable and Baroness Grey-Thompson, provided thought-provoking insight into Europe and the immense effort that goes into achieving unrivalled success.
The sessions during the day were immensely busy, standing room only in certain cases. The events serve an important educational purpose for the delegates. Representatives from the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), Autorité des marchés financiers (AMF) and European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) were on hand to answer the difficult questions during a number of sessions regarding regulation. Although there has been a delay in MiFID II, there is still a huge appetite for the market to discuss the “devil-in-the-detail” items within the requirements.
The audience participation at the event was greater than ever as vote pads were introduced to gauge real-time views and opinions from delegates. During the MiFID II sessions, the audience indicated that there is still work to be done as over half of the audience indicated they did not currently have a sufficient quantitative component to meet the upcoming requirements under MiFID II for Best Execution. Of course, this is not a simple process and was acknowledged by the regulators on the day. One of the key elements to enable this will be accurate data, something that will be challenging in fixed income. Additionally in fixed income, currencies and commodities (FICC), firms will need to address unbundling research costs, as 74% of the audience said they had not started this process yet.
The panel discussion on cybersecurity clearly showed the value of collaboration within the FIX Trading Community. The panel reviewed the activities of the working group as well as previewing work now being initiated and undertaken, including a best practices document. It will be through shared knowledge, agreement and the application of best practices that the ongoing threats are addressed.
A new topic for the Conference was blockchain. Interestingly enough, when polled, 40% of the audience responded with “What’s Blockchain?” when asked where their firm is with regards to it. Although much hyped, this is still an unknown entity for many in the world of institutional trading. The FIX Working Group has a number of different initiatives it is looking at and we would welcome more involvement.
I’ve used the analogy of the conference being a little like a wedding. Everyone wants the day to go well and everyone pulls together to make the event the success it is today. The collaboration of the FIX Trading Community is truly global. In the next two months, there will be events in New York (14th April) and Hong Kong (12th May). The ethos is very much the same – learn, network and debate.
By Tim Healy, Global Marketing and Communications Manager, FIX Trading.