LiTDX 2020: Behind the scenes

Loyal readers of The TRADE will be well aware of our flagship Leaders in Trading awards ceremony.

For many, it is a highlight event in their calendars as we recognise the outstanding achievements of the industry, from asset managers and hedge funds, to brokers, exchange groups and technology vendors. It’s a time of reflection for traders as we gather to deliberate on market developments, trends and accomplishments.

When I joined the TRADE at the start of 2020 the Leaders in Trading wheel was already in motion. The venue was booked and plans in place. We had even chosen the dinner and cocktail menus at the prestigious Savoy Hotel in London. I scoured The TRADE’s video archives to get a glimpse of the event which had occupied so much of my team’s time and attention.

I was immediately captivated, prepping my plans to shoot the awards ceremony and digitally document the proceedings. But by the end of that first quarter in 2020, a spanner was thrown into the works – well, more like the whole toolbox – taking everyone by surprise. We were in a situation we had never been in before. How could we move forward with Leaders in Trading given the current COVID-19 restrictions? We simply couldn’t.

Meeting after meeting, The TRADE team discussed alternatives. It soon became clear that we would somehow have to deliver the event digitally. The aim was to somehow provide viewers with the full Leaders in Trading experience that could be consumed at their own leisure when it suited them.

So, it was decided. The TRADE would host Leaders in Trading: The Digital Experience, otherwise known as LiTDX.

What seems like hundreds of meetings later and whole load of back and forth, we forged a plan to produce a five-day digital festival-type event, with a headline special feature to premiere each day. We didn’t want to simply present the awards. We wanted to give our audience something more, something new. 

We decided that each special feature should tackle topics that were front and centre throughout 2020. The role that FinTech providers have played during in the pandemic was a no-brainer for our FinTech of the Year feature, while we considered mental health and wellbeing of traders well-suited to our Rising Stars of Trading and Execution initiative. Adapting to lockdown and grappling with intense market volatility would be the focus of our coveted Buy-side Awards. All of these subjects were fitting and our LiTDX award nominees were eager to speak on the matters.

Alongside the daily headline digital features dedicated to each award category, we also created a series known as The TRADE Tales. This content was a step away from our usual narrative, with no mention of institutional trading, we explored the daring hobbies and interests of people from across the industry. It’s fair to say never judge a book by its cover after hearing the stories from the series participants. 

While restrictions meant that most of our filming would take place online on platforms like Teams or Zoom, The TRADE’s Leaders in Trading event had become closely associated with the Savoy hotel in London, and this was an image I was keen to uphold.

By chance I came across an old, classic cinema with the same name. The cinema itself helped set the tone for each digital feature, providing that premiere feel for the audience as they watched our content from the comforts of their own homes. Filming was a success and we managed to keep our tradition alive, albeit at a different Savoy location.

Post-production was the final stage of LiTDX. Like a 5,000-piece puzzle, I would have to painstakingly put our footage together to make something that was coherent, complete and beautiful. The whole team pulled together, and we managed to achieve that.

The process was challenging and the concept alien to us all. But we managed to create something truly innovative in the form of a new digital experience for our audience. Feedback from people across the industry has been fantastic. With so many market participants involved in LiTDX, whether as nominees, award winners or contributors, this collaborative project succeeded in bringing the industry together. 

By Kiays Khalil, multimedia reporter, The TRADE 

All LiTDX content is available on-demand now. Please visit