By the industry, for the industry: OpenFin, LSE and FlexTrade simplify complexity on the buy-side trader desktop

Following widespread adoption and an overwhelming response to the Financial Desktop Connectivity and Collaboration Consortium (FDC3), Mitra Roknabadi, VP and global head of marketing at OpenFin writes that this is just the tip of the iceberg.

Mitra Roknabadi, VP and global head of marketing, OpenFin

As the realities of the pandemic continue to raise questions about the future of work and its implications for traders, Adam Toms, our European CEO, sat down with other industry leaders at recent conferences, including the International Trader Forum, to discuss the acceleration of digital transformation.

The discussions focused not only on how firms can leverage the latest data, tools and systems to expand automated capabilities and improve efficiency, but also on how to make these applications and tools function more seamlessly through OpenFin, the industry-backed OS of Finance.

“What’s been really clear over the last 18 months, throughout the pandemic, is that everyone has been very focused on employees and end-client users, essentially thinking about user experience more and more,” Toms said.

Overall, the challenges for employees and users on the desktop revolve around the integration of new tools that can streamline workflows with existing systems. Overcoming these challenges can vary in difficulty. However, OpenFin’s sophisticated desktop layer enables firms to complete integrations with unprecedented speed. What’s more, the Financial Desktop Connectivity and Collaboration Consortium (FDC3), an industry working group founded by OpenFin in 2017, promotes universal standards that can transform how firms approach these problems.

The absence of FDC3 prior to 2017 created a language barrier, as it were, resulting in disrupted workflows that created operational risk and forced users to manually re-key information across numerous windows. Bilateral integrations of old offered a sliver of hope, but bespoke solutions and person-to-person communication between app developers and product managers for each specific use case hamper scalability and prove costly, making this approach untenable.

Buy-side frustrations with their fragmented desktops were ubiquitous and made abundantly clear at various industry events even before the pandemic. Since then, multiple large asset managers backed OpenFin’s continued call for the industry to deliver workflow efficiencies, application interoperability and a more unified user experience.

The response from the industry to FDC3 has since been overwhelming. And yet, despite the increasingly widespread adoption of FDC3 by leading financial services organisations across the industry, we are truly only witnessing the tip of the iceberg in terms of what’s possible.

London Stock Exchange Group (LSEG) is one firm that has risen to the buy-side’s call, particularly when it comes to its Turquoise Plato platform. After connecting to OpenFin, the LSEG is now able to deliver its data feed directly into trader workflows to support liquidity discovery and decision-making processes. FlexTrade Systems was the first firm to integrate the Turquoise data feed with its flagship EMS via the OpenFin message bus, creating a joint initiative to automate processes and enable more timely decisions for buy-side traders. The Turquoise Plato data feed can also be leveraged in OpenFin’s notification centre and search feed.

As Dr. Robert Barnes, group head of securities trading & CEO of LSEG Turquoise, stated during a recent panel discussion, OpenFin’s technology and FDC3 are instrumental to this sort of innovation. The standard has created not just a unified desktop experience for the buy-side, but one that moves at the speed of trade, surfaces key data at the most critical points in user workflows and fuels overall productivity.  “And this is really just the first step on a journey as we’re looking to digitise the entire capital markets workflow.”

According to Andy Mahoney, managing director EMEA at FlexTrade, the move to open-source FDC3 by OpenFin has been key to this crucial industry-wide undertaking.

“I think the key thing that OpenFin has done is create the FDC3 standards. They could have easily kept it proprietary and not allowed anyone to access, but they’ve encouraged access by all,” said Mahoney on a recent panel, presenting the culmination of the work FlexTrade has done with Turquoise and OpenFin. “These things should be open for the community to work together to figure out what workflows we’re actually using across desktops and make sure they’re standardised and understood.”

OpenFin contributed FDC3 to the Fintech Open Source Foundation (FINOS) in 2018. 

“We are extremely proud of the role we played then and continue to play, with OpenFin today offering the largest network of FDC3-enabled apps in the industry. Overcoming the issues facing capital markets technology today will require contributions from all of us, and FDC3 is just the beginning. As an industry backed platform we look forward to continuing to deliver innovative solutions to the community,” concluded Toms.