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Morgan Stanley’s Matrix wins Best Cross-Asset Trading Initiative December 7, 2010

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At the American Financial Technology Awards ceremony last night Matrix was crowned as Best Cross-Asset Trading Initiative, ahead of the GS and HSBC entries.

All winners here:


Have Reuters and EBS Lost Control of FX ? December 8, 2009

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Interesting article from Euromoney, here.

Innovation Vs Cost-Containment July 1, 2009

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Luke met with the good folks at Advanced Trading at SIFMA the other week, the result of which was this article “SIFMA: Cost Cutting, A Double-Edged Sword?” that outlined his observation on the maturity of the purchasing decisions investment banks make (or don’t make!) in hiring consultants: 

Level 1: Lowest dollar cost – is it really the cheapest option if it takes twice as long ?

Level 2: Total Cost of Project – factor time to completion, debugging, compliance, etc

Level 3: Risk-adjusted cost perspective – probability of success for the investment

Level 4: Innovation – the need to bring new ideas to the table

Needless to say, there is indeed a tight correlation between these levels and the timeliness/quality of the final product….

Catching Up – Lab49 Articles July 1, 2009

Posted by newyorkscot in Articles, HPC, Marketing, Visualization / UX.
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Life at Lab49 has been busy recently with a diverse set of client delivery, sales and marketing activities – all good news as the business continues to grow on both sides of the Atlantic.

On the marketing front, we have written a lot of great articles this year, and have been in a number of other features, providing commentary to the relevant stories. They can all be read on the Lab49 website here with the articles carved out in a separate page here. A few highlights:

Waters Special Report: IT in Crisis: Lab49 sponsored a special report in the SIFMA edition of the magazine, the theme of which how financial institutions should be addressing the current challenges presented by the financial crisis, and how, by investing in the right technology, firms can radically improve their agility and intelligence.

Robust, Reusable Drag-and-Drop Behavior in Silverlight discusses how developers can can greatly increase the overall robustness and re-usability of any drag-and-drop implementation in Silverlight, through the manipulation of an element’s RenderTransform with attached behaviors.

Riding the Tsunami discusses why firms need to update their trading and risk infrastructures and implement a holistic approach with a balance of powerful new technologies. 

Building a bank from scratch hypothesizes what it would take to rebuild bank systems from scratch to support real-time data aggregation and analysis, to provide a platform to capitalize on next-generation technologies, and to accommodate constant change. The article also outlines what principles, technologies and processes should be put in place to facilitate the optimal solution.

Concurrency: Take Control or Fail discusses how new trends in hardware demand the adoption of parallel programming throughout the financial enterprise, and why firms need to start getting up to speed now, or risk falling behind.

Trends in FX July 1, 2009

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The 2009 edition of FXAll’sBest Practice in Foreign Exchange Markets” has some great commentary on what has happened to the FX market in last 9 months: reduced volumes, increased volatility, return to high-touch client relationships, and the lack of liquidity in the forward market (see Page 12). Key point: forward trades (swaps,outrights) are essentially loans and hence need to be modeled/priced as such (think: counterparty/settlement risk from a credit perspective).

User Interface Design in Capital markets September 19, 2008

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I attended an Edward Tufte course yesterday in New York, with a number of colleagues from Lab49. I had read the first 3 of his books, but not Beautiful Evidence, and was looking to see how we can further apply his ideas and principles to our work in building advanced user interfaces for traders, etc.

Overall, it was great to hear from the man himself on how he approaches visualizing data and how one can achieve information density: showing causality, focusing on the information to be presented over the form of production, to integrating different form of production (text, image, graphs), etc. I enjoyed the specific references to the visualization work (and thus principles), that Gailileo used almost 400 years ago. Specifically, the use of intuitive graphics that portray meaningful data inline with text (just as sparklines can), is a very powerful concept that I think will become a dominant form of communication especially when those graphics are driven off live data.

ET gave his usual amusing powerpoint (PP) bashing routine, most of it very much merited. In general, PP is a bad communication medium, and does encourage slovenly thinking of the material being presented. I liked his comment on how PP is simply a “projector-management” system.

In general, I agree with most of Edwards thinking with respect to the cleanliness and density of content on the visualization – and it is particularly true on printed media. However, I felt that more could be done to update the ideas for the monitor display form ( see his commentary on the iPhone here).  We all use pretty high-res monitors, and traders tend to have the very best, if not HD. Monitors are becoming increasing pervasive and a lot more thinking can and should be done in optimizing information density and clarity on trading applications. Once full touch screens are available, new opportunities for interactivity will present themselves and thus drive the engraining of the medium. 

So, with that said, I feel that many of the principles of visualization data in general, as well as some of his ideas for maximizing content (over admin junk such as scroll bars, buttons, navigation, etc.) are well founded. The advice that no more than 10% of the screen should be for non-content is also a very good sanity check.

BUT, in capital markets there are a number of scenarios where the visualization of high-frequency and complex data do  not have elegant solutions (other than some of the ideas at Lab49 🙂 ) . Yeah, sparklines are nice and have tremendous information density for showing a lot of linear ticking data and showing absolute and relative trends. I wonder how E.T. would approach some of the situations we have to deal with like: a) full market depth view of fragmented markets in real-time, b) multi-dimensional pricing and risk (e.g. diversified portfolios that need to be viewed across asset, geography, industry, company dimensions, for example), c) credit risk of a portfolio of structured products ?

A Year of Losses September 16, 2008

Posted by newyorkscot in Markets, Visualization / UX.
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Cool visualization in the New York Times, illustrating the changes in market capitalization of the major Wall St firms from a year ago to Sep 12, 2008. Hover over the companies to look at the astonishing negative changes (e.g . Citigroup down 58% in one year from $236.6bn to $97.8bn!)

How to Be a Good IT Customer August 7, 2008

Posted by newyorkscot in Agile, Articles, Client Engagement Mgt, Management.
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Joe Morrison and I have another article published in eBizQ that discusses on how clients and customers can help developers do a better job in delivering better functionality in a quicker timeframe. See also our previous article published in Computer Weekly.

Lab49Capital: iPhone Application for Hedge Funds August 4, 2008

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Lab49 has just announced this very cool iPhone / iPod Touch application for the buy-side. The application, called “Lab49 Capital”, is an example of real-time portfolio management solutions we are building for clients. As you will see in the screenshots and screencast on the Lab49 website, it provides real-time alerts, P&L and position updates for a portfolio and allows the user to drill into the portfolio across multiple dimensions such as industry, country, manager and strategy. Using the iPhone’s fantastic graphics capabilities, the application also has some very clever user interface considerations, packing in a lot of information into each of the screens.

Waters Magazine: Flying By Wire August 1, 2008

Posted by newyorkscot in Agile, Articles, HPC, Marketing, Markets, Other.
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Waters Magazine has just published my article “Flying By Wire” in its Open Platform section of the August issue. The article discusses how advanced trading systems need better control systems to dependably innovate and take new opportunities to market. I draw an analogy between trading systems and modern jet aircraft where stability, performance and control are essential characteristics that need to be considered during design, development and testing. Read the article on the Lab49 website here.

It’s The Stupid Economy July 23, 2008

Posted by newyorkscot in Markets.

Jon Stewart does it again.

New SEC Regulation on Short-Selling Causing a Stir July 17, 2008

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The SEC has recently come out with an emergency order to curb “naked short selling” of certain stocks (19 in all) that include Freddie Mac, Fannie Mae, Morgan Stanley, Goldman, Lehman, etc. The motivation is to alleviate the unrelenting short selling of these “vulnerable” stocks.

Currently, brokers and banks are not allowed to short sell without already having borrowed stock to cover the position. However, the precise terms of the timing of the “borrow” has been a little vague up until now. The new SEC order forces the short seller to formally borrow the stock before the short sell can occur.

This has all the major dealing houses scrambling to get these new controls in place before Monday. Additionally, it will make it more expensive to trade, and could impact the ability to trade options: traders often short-sell to hedge put option contracts they have sold. And if options traders can’t hedge themselves, they can’t sell put or buy call options.

One of the actual issues is that short sellers will often locate the stock to be borrowed on trade date, but not actually borrow it until settlement date (T+3). That can be problematic as multiple dealers can locate the same stock from the same source so when it comes to borrow, someone is left “naked”. The solution would therefore to secure the borrow on trade date, not settlement date.

Hands-on Computing July 17, 2008

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Great article, “Hands-on Computing” in Scientific American this month that covers multi-touch computer screens and how this technology, including Microsoft’s Surface and the iPhone, will change the way we interact with computers and data. There is also a supplemental article explaining how multi-touch screens work.

Watch the Yen July 9, 2008

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Interesting Economist article on how the performance of the Yen indicates investor sentiment.

How To Be A Good Customer July 8, 2008

Posted by newyorkscot in Agile, Articles, Client Engagement Mgt, Marketing.

Joe Morrison and I just had an article published in Computer Weekly that summarizes how business customers can play a role in IT teams delivering better software more frequently and reliably. Read the article at Lab49 here, or online here.