Vendors exhibiting at the Finexpo City Technology Strategies show in London are reporting brisk trade as financial institutions look for cost-effective solutions to meet their key data and risk management concerns.
The one-day conference and exhibition – organised by Finextra and sponsored by HP, Morse and Sun - has attracted a high level of interest from the end-user community. By mid-afternoon more than 500 visitors had passed through Finexpo looking to network with their peers, share ideas about financial technology strategies and check out the latest solutions from a sold-out exhibition of 38 suppliers to the industry.
Martin Gorrod, a senior business consultant with Iris Financial Systems, reported a steady stream of foot traffic throughout the morning. "The quality of delegates has been very good," he says. "People visiting the stand are looking for potential solutions to difficult integration issues while operating in a low-cost environment."
This was reflected in separate standing room-only presentations by John O'Hara, vice president and global architect for equities at JPMorgan Chase, and Simon Walkden, global head of IT architecture at UBS Warburg, both of whom shared their experiences of adopting Web services and explored integration issues surrounding dual use of J2EE and .NET architectures.
Jim Kaye, executive director, equities, Goldman Sachs, also drew a crowd of 100+, representing a good mix of buy- and sell-side institutions and financial market intermediaries. Appropriately, Kaye's talk on plugging the gaps in front and middle office STP ranged across the entire order lifecycle.
To meet the STP challenge head on, he suggested, institutions should be careful to place demands for more automation and lower-cost processing in the context of ongoing requirements for flexibility and effective pro-active management of exceptions and failed trades. This necessitates a rethink of traditional job roles and functions, support of - and adherence to - agreed industry standards and the clever application of workflow technologies.
The changes required are most apparent in the front office, says Kaye, with traditional service oriented, relationship management staff sitting alongside a new breed of process oriented individuals.
As a result, Goldman Sachs is now moving to a situation "where we have two different types of people, with two different types of skills - effectively splitting the front office in half."
Clearly, the pressure on IT budgets and senior technology staff in the financial services industry is having a galvanising effect on coffee consumption in the City. By mid-morning Finexpo exhibition organisers were struggling to keep pace with demand, as the early risers gulped down 2000 cups - 180 gallons - of coffee.