Challenges in communication with brokers rise for buy-side, survey finds

Survey by Redlap Consulting found a rise in communication challenges among the buy-side, often in reaching sell-side counterparties, during the pandemic.

Almost half of buy-side market participants agreed that external communication challenges surged in 2020, a report by Redlap Consulting with Plato Partnership has found.

The report surveyed 64 CEOs, heads of research, sales, trading, IT and compliance across the industry and 41% of buy-side respondents saw difficulties in communication rise during the global pandemic, often with reaching their sell-side counterparties.

On the flip side, only 20% of sell-side colleagues reported a decline in external communications but they did state they experienced a higher level of challenges relating to internal communications.  

Both buy- and sell-side firms found difficulties in replicating ad-hoc conversations or face-to-face brainstorming using virtual interaction, the report added, leading to a change in approach with more regular and structured catchups.

In addition, the survey found that 53% of buy-side firms and 70% of sell-side firms are  planning to increase their investment in technology to address the various industry changes caused by the pandemic.  

“One key takeaway is that across the industry there is not one common communication tool,” said one head of trading from a global bulge bracket. “Every organisation is siloed, AFME use Blue Jeans, but we don’t have permission to use BlueJeans. It took us nine months to get Zoom approved, but other companies use WebEx or Microsoft Teams.

“There needs to be some sort of standard security specifications which the industry is comfortable to use and then it doesn’t matter let’s pick up six of the best and use all of those.”  

Communications firms have launched various initiatives in recent months in a bid to resolve issues relating to newly remote working conditions. Most recent was Symphony in December, which expanded its messaging system with the addition of a low-code application platform from software provider Genesis Global Technology.  

Symphony and Genesis said at the time that the expanded solution was in response to the financial markets community being increasingly reliant on electronification and collaboration tools to mitigate risk and increase efficiencies during the pandemic.