Please introduce yourself, your past work experiences and the journey that has led you to MioTech
In the 1990s, there was a premature tech bubble in New York. I remember buying the shares of a company called Comparator Systems. It traded on the ticker code IDID US. It was suppose to change the world of fingerprint authentications. The stock had some unrealistic gains of over 1000% in just days, if I recall correctly. Yet, nobody even knew what they did. This is when I joined Bloomberg, a company that was on the verge of transforming the financial information business by providing an insane amount of information and financial intelligence not really seen at the time. Over the years, I have built a number of analytic tools and various businesses for the firm in the U.S., Japan and Asia Pacific. In 2010, I was asked to join Citibank in Hong Kong to head up their Electronic Markets business which in turn became the springboard for an automation of the lifecycle of the entire trade product called Execution 2 Custody. As the energy swelled around FinTech, I have spent a few years helping start-ups with advice on practical feasibility on some clever technical ideas. Through a sea of companies I reviewed, MioTech caught my eye as a very different kind of aspiring enterprise. Had a number of very inspiring conversations and was lucky enough that its CEO offered me a spot in the pack.
A lot of Bloomberg’s analytical software and trading screens have your magic touch, please tell me about your time at Bloomberg, your achievements and key take-aways.
About 15 years ago a client called us on the helpdesk looking for Global Market Capitalization but we did not have it any longer. We used to buy this index from S&P for a few million USD a year. Since we were redistributing the data, they charged a heavy premium. The decision was made not to buy it anymore. As smart as we were, it took us a few months to realize that we can build it ourselves. We had virtually every single listed company and its market capitalization. Over the next 6 months, we rolled out a function that was built from our simple equity screening tool and provided WCAP <GO> which listed all the market capitalizations of all the countries and regions. There were countless examples along the years but the most important central theme was to always take a careful client-centric and creative look at what was really needed by the customer and what we had as available resources. S&P could never charge those heavy premiums again to any firm as buying a Bloomberg terminal was cheaper than their old rate.
It’s said that you brought Bloomberg into the Asian arena of Execution Management in Equity and Futures Order Routing, what were the challenges you faced entering this market? How did you overcome it?
With the advent of electronic trading, there were mixed feelings by the industry players. Many buy side firms liked the lack of clarity in trading over the phone. A practical reason for this was their ability to ask the broker to make them whole in the event of a loss due to a trade if they went the wrong way. Sell side liked it because it reduced their cost and errors but many wanted to own and brand their platform. One of the first to recognize that the buy side was not interested in having a different platform for every broker they trade with was Credit Suisse. And we managed to convince them to use only Bloomberg as their electronic trading offering. They very quickly became the most popular as it was not just Credit Suisse salespeople selling their algos but hundreds of Bloomberg sales people too. Others quickly followed and our executions quality analytics screens such as TCA, as well as the pre-trade IOI disclosure functions quickly changed the electronic execution landscape.
Most importantly, we were also the very first to bring a completely localized version of the trading tool. With a simple digital user command, an order entered in Chinese by an asset manager could be viewed in Japanese by the executing broker and post trade handled in English by a back office.
Please tell me about the move to Citi and heading the Electronic Markets transformation program. What were some of the challenges and achievements?
Most large financial institutions have become incredible storage facilities of years of very valuable data of many types, but lost the ability to manage it and to benefit from it. There are internal organizational challenges and as many O&T divisions that have a vested interest in not evolving and developing digital efficiencies. When I joined, Citi had one of the top 5 global brokerages in the world and the largest geographic custody presence. My mandate was to manage the digital platform for Asia and to ensure the smooth trade and post trade processes on the Citi platform. We ended up doing a bit more by offering the E2C product which created the first true STP along the entire holistic life cycle of the trade. The internal compliance process was by far the biggest challenge. It took a lot of time until the detailed articulation of the logic behind this service was recognized not to present any legal problem for the bank.
After 20 years working for big financial players, why have you now decided to work with a startup like MioTech?
In many ways I have always worked with a MioTech-type of firm. When I joined Bloomberg we were very much in our infancy as a firm. We were often confused with Bloomingdales and really did not have an equity product. While Bloomberg today is considered a giant, I was there when it was where MioTech is today. As for Citi, while it is a fantastic giant financial institution, I was lucky to be able to understand how it runs overall but I also had the luxury of running a small entrepreneur-type of business. So I suppose I became addicted to building and selling great ideas and solutions. As such, this is not really a big change, just a journey where I keep improving my employers.
Any particular issues you had working at a large corporation?
No issues. All players are good at something. If they are perceived as having any deficiencies, that is an opportunity to be filled by others. The key is understanding the weakness, their root cause and the customers who need to vote with their money.
What will be your key responsibilities and what are you looking forward to the most at MioTech?
No organization can grow and stay successful if any employee is anchored to the checklist of their job description. This is especially true for a new start-up. It has to be the collective responsibility of all employees to promote the firm and its product. So my job is very much to do the same. The senior management of MioTech has demonstrated a very clear excellence in vision and a dedicated persistent discipline and I hope to augment it through my experience and creativity. I look forward to the energy that the group has and making the firm become the most recognized start-up in this space.