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A simple question came up recently in a conversation – how many new Fixed Income trading venues are there?  I could not think of anywhere th...

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Electronify, Evangelise, Educate...

It's not enough to simply work within a firm to change the workflow from telephone to an electronic workflow.  You also have to educate the staff who will be using the system.  And to evangelise...
As an example of this, a war story.  Some time ago I was working on a project and was introduced to a buy-side dealing desk.  The team were using a FIX enabled OMS but management felt that usage of FIX was low.  I spent some time on creating an accurate set of management reports from the OMS database.  The reports were showing that the number of orders sent by FIX was lower than expected and in many cases executions were being manually added to a FIX order.

A few hours of observation and note taking ensued and it was clear that the desk had no confidence in the OMS, hence they would always telephone a broker to check the FIX order had arrived.  Then they would see executions arrive by FIX but generally towards the end of the day delete the FIX executions and manually enter a single execution.  This was a desk trading European equities so there was no problem with lot level execution prices and so on (as you would find in trading Japanese equities or futures give-ups).

After further investigations and discussions it became clear that the problem was really a series of problems (partial list follows):
  1. At one point there had been an outage and due to an incorrect intervention a series of execution reports were deleted outside of the FIX workflow.  So at the end of that day brokers were questioned on why an order was not fully filled and the brokers reported back that it was.  So this created a lack of trust in the OMS and the FIX implementation.
  2. The default setting in the system for some broker was "send by FIX", in other cases the "use the telephone".  So when sending orders in a hurry sometimes the outcome would be FIX, other times telephone.  Hence a lack of confidence in the system to actually send the order.
  3. Static data in the system was incorrect and user broker short-cut lists were often out of date.
  4. FIX session start, end and reset times were not matched up with some brokers.
It was clear that there was some technical work (electronification) to be done to resolve these issues but that the main point was to overcome the trust deficit.
Once the implementation issues were resolved it then became a case of education to actually let the dealing desk know how the system now worked and what it could and could not do.  This process is accretive, it takes time to get started but once people see that a proper working FIX workflow will save time, reduce operational risk and reduce manual workflow the education process often shifts from technologist/desk to a desk based peer-to-peer process.
Once the electronification and education parts are done we are left with is evangelism.  The point here is that once the implementation "as requested" is completed there is usually a backlog of work that is wanted but was de-scoped from phase one.  By evangelising the benefits the business can start to make demands of IT to offer these additional benefits by working through the backlog.

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