As the vast selection of collaboration tools available to institutional traders continues to grow, coupled with the accelerated adoption of emerging technologies, many firms are struggling to address the knock-on effect this is having on trader workflows. In the seventh episode of Cloud9’s podcast series examining developments in the voice trading landscape, Cloud9’s Chief Operating Officer Jim Miller and Symphony’s Chief Product Officer Michael Lynch examine how fragmented workflows can be solved by consolidating trading tools with voice capabilities and how Symphony’s recent acquisition of Cloud9 is playing a key part in alleviating challenges.
One year out from the start of the sweeping COVID-19 pandemic that changed working conditions globally, many firms continue to struggle with how to address the challenges they have faced during the transition, particularly voice trading in what has become a virtual market ecosystem. While every company needs to employ remote working capabilities, there is no question that it is difficult to manage and can create challenges when trying to access and store voice data.
Virtual voice data
There are a number of systems that can capture voice data and many others that can retrieve it, store it, and analyze it. However, there is no single standard defining how institutional voice data needs to be captured. Firms have ample amounts of voice metadata detailing where a conversation began and where it ended, but one of the issues the industry faces is that there is no single agreement on how to represent voice data in a unified way. This has resulted in consumers of that data having to integrate and manage a wide array of unstructured data formats.
As customers became more interested – and in some cases compelled – to capture information from voice communications, it became clear that this issue needed to be addressed.
The FINOS Voice Metadata Standardization working group has taken a number of steps to try to unify the metadata. However, in order for these steps to be enacted and become valuable to users, the standard needs to be adopted across the industry to ensure the process is uniform.
While the simple facet of the equation is capturing and storing voice data in a standard-based method, the more difficult element is transcribing the data and then structuring it so that firms can make more informed trading decisions and leverage it for regulatory purposes.
There are numerous vendors that have expertise in natural language processing (NLP), data structuring, and transcribing data. It will be the responsibility of the producers of such data to make it available via standards-based APIs whereby owners of this data can easily make it available to their vendors.
In the cloud versus on-prem
The next barrier is access to the data. When examining the current situation around structuring data for voice, the lead question must be how comfortable companies will be capturing and storing recordings and metadata in the cloud.
As financial institutions continue to acclimate to longer-term remote work strategies, some are employing permanent work-from-home policies, while others are returning to their offices. Regardless of the approach, the reality is that it will be a hybrid of the two for the foreseeable future. This has resulted in not only an increased appetite for the cloud – but an increased need, particularly in enhancing flexibility and redundancy.
Today, the majority of metadata is captured and stored in on-site facilities. A potentially more effective solution is the use of secure cloud storage. This allows users to access data via APIs making it available to analytics vendors of the customer’s choice and allowing them to leverage the full value of the data.
There are some institutional traders that are generating more than 300,000 recordings per month and are using cloud-based APIs that allow them to perform reconciliation at better than 99.9% accuracy. This provides better accuracy than many on-prem systems. For the first time, customers are approaching vendors for more robust cloud-based voice data solutions as opposed to the other way around. These software-based voice trading systems also provide the compliance features necessary to allow proper trading oversight regardless of work environment.
A software-based voice trading system that can be used from anywhere has become much more than just a “nice to have” – it is now a basic necessity.
Future of voice data
Historically compliance and surveillance have been managed with on-premise solutions. But with new challenges of remote working and tremendous advances in technology, effective cloud-based UCC and voice trading solutions are emerging. This shift has forced vendors to offer products that work as well in cloud settings as they do in traditional on-prem, while enabling a seamless transition to what will be the new normal.
For the first time, firms are more open and comfortable allowing their data – including voice and communication data and disaster recovery solutions – to reside in the cloud. With users that traditionally work both on and off the trading floor distributed across numerous locations, the cloud has become the easiest place to store and retrieve data.
Voice data will be made more accessible and available as it migrates to the cloud allowing owners of data to grant access to best-of-breed analytics vendors. Compliance vendors will use standardized APIs to access that data to provide compliance and analytics capabilities regardless of the location of the systems that are generating the data.
Finally, if an industry-wide standard for the data format is agreed to, producers and consumers of that data will find it far easier to provide value to their customers.
This article was originally published in Traders Magazine.
New York; September 1, 2020 – Cloud9 Technologies has been named to CB Insights’ third annual Fintech 250, its ranking of the most promising private financial technology startups in the world. This is the second consecutive time that Cloud9 has been named to the prestigious list, where the Company has been recognized among the best in Capital Markets.
Through an evidence-based approach, the CB Insights Intelligence Unit selected the Fintech 250 from a pool of 16,000 companies, including applicants and nominees, based on several factors. These factors include patent activity, investor quality, news sentiment analysis, proprietary Mosaic scores, market potential, partnerships, competitive landscape, team strength, and tech novelty. The Mosaic Score, based on CB Insights’ algorithm, measures the overall health and growth potential of private companies to help predict a company’s momentum.
“We’re proud to, once again, recognize the 250 best private fintech companies globally. This year’s Fintech 250 represents 25 countries and spans 19 categories — reimagining everything from retail banking and crypto, to insurance and asset management,” said CB Insights CEO Anand Sanwal. “The previous Fintech 250 class raised more than $22 billion in investor financing and saw more than 20 exits after being recognized, and we expect this year’s class will have similar success as they continue to transform how people and businesses spend, save, borrow, and invest their money.”
“The financial technology landscape is evolving rapidly, especially with what has transpired this year and how firms have had to adjust their technology approach and strategy due to the shifting working conditions,” said Jerry Starr, CEO & co-founder of Cloud9 Technologies. “To be recognized among the most innovative fintech companies in the world is a tribute to the fantastic work our team has done this year.”
2020 Fintech 250 Highlights:
- Unicorns: 32 of the 250 companies are valued at or above $1B as of their latest funding round
- Funding trends: YTD, these 250 private companies have raised $10.3B in equity funding across 120 deals (as of 8/26/20)
- Mega-rounds: Since 2019, there have been 87 mega-round ($100M+) equity investments to this year’s Fintech 250, with 35 of them in 2020 YTD (as of 8/25/20)
- Global representation: 46% of the 2020 Fintech 250 are based outside the US. After the US, the UK is home to the most Fintech 250 companies (38), followed by India (20)
CB Insights released its last Fintech 250 in October 2018, where Cloud9 was featured the best in Capital Markets & Institutional Trading.
About CB Insights
At CB Insights, we believe the most complex strategic business questions are best answered with facts. We are a machine intelligence company that synthesizes, analyzes and visualizes millions of documents to give our clients fast, fact-based insights. Serving the majority of the Fortune 100, we give companies the power to make better decisions, take control of their own future, and capitalize on change.