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Unless you’ve had your head in the clouds for the past few years it would be difficult not to notice the pace of adoption of cloud technologies in financial services and the capital markets.

by Alex Walker, VP, Global Network Data Sales, IPC Systems

Perhaps one unforeseen consequence of the global pandemic was that the working world in general, and financial markets, in particular, would not simply resume ‘business as usual’ the moment physical restrictions on entering workplaces were lifted. Just a few years ago the idea of virtual trading floors would have been unthinkable, given the challenge and heavy burden of meeting rigorous security, performance, surveillance, conduct and reporting obligations. However, new cloud technologies not only facilitated efficient remote trading; post-pandemic there has been a seismic shift in mindsets as to what ‘institutional-grade’ operational and business models should look like.

The benefits of using the cloud

Alex Walker, VP, Global Network Data Sales, IPC Systems discusses the impact of cloud technologies
Alex Walker, VP, Global Network Data Sales, IPC Systems

Market participants have options when it comes to selecting the cloud configuration that best satisfies their specific and extensive requirements, from security and performance rigour to ease of integration with internal infrastructures and external counterparts. Cloud technologies, in general, offer key benefits that include a pay-as-you-go subscription model, flexibility, scalability, significantly reduced times to market, removal of barriers to entry for new solution offerings, and the ability to respond more quickly to evolving market conditions.

As a pioneer and advocate of new data distribution and communications technologies, we endeavour to understand our clients’ pain points and their key drivers of change in embracing new cloud technologies, innovation, and emerging trends. Our survey this year of 500 professional trading practitioners uncovered that there was a relatively even split of respondents favouring integration with a public cloud over single and multi-party private clouds. We find that smaller firms and retail traders tend to focus more on cost-efficient market access and leveraging the economies of scale offered through shared (public) cloud infrastructures. However, the Tier 1 banks and large financial institutions will more likely lean towards private cloud infrastructures with enhanced, stringent, and rigorous performance and security layers. The solution for the majority of financial firms will be a hybrid of traditional and cloud connections and distribution models.

In terms of front-end trading applications in the cloud, it is still relatively early as far as ‘proof of concept’ and, not least because of the weight of regulatory and compliance obligations, the trading industry remains understandably circumspect about full adoption. That said, we are seeing a steady migration to certain aspects of cloud services, and over time expect order management services – and indeed core matching functionality – to transition increasingly to the cloud.

The foundation of digital innovation

Cloud adoption offers a starting point for firms to completely rethink how they access and manage costly, high-maintenance operational resources such as network and communications infrastructure, data storage, client connectivity, etc. This shifts business mindsets beyond pragmatic ‘build or buy’ decisions to a nimbler ‘as-a-service’ business model.

The ‘as-a-service’ consumption model mitigates the cost and risk of significant direct investment in cloud connectivity and service capabilities – as well as the arguably greater risk of being left behind as new cloud technologies and applications become the standard. Along with the anticipated increase in digital data points, financial institutions will be compelled to embrace the power of the cloud to continue to stay relevant in an increasingly challenging competitive environment, particularly with respect to new, non-bank, cloud-native industry disruptors.

The everyday integration of digital technology into our lives has had a significant impact on workplace cultures and structures. Cloud technologies allow firms to be much more flexible, mobile, and innovative. The success of this approach – in terms of measurable performance and driving more cloud-led business decisions to ongoing innovation – is linked irrevocably to the robustness of a company’s connection between its infrastructure and cloud environment.


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