Behind the Idea: IPC and OpenFin

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As companies across the world had to suddenly transition into a remote-work model following the outbreak of COVID-19, the pressure was on for fintechs powering the financial services industry to react. In a move never seen before in the industry, IPC has ensured that during this difficult time, its customers can still operate as smoothly and efficiently at home as they could on physical and highly regulated trading floors.

The company recently launched its innovative “App Store” environment for traders and other regulated users in partnership with OpenFin that delivers cost-effective solutions to its customers and supports business continuity plans. Financial market participants can access market data and trade lifecycle services available in IPC’s Connexus Cloud platform through any OpenFin-enabled desktop or any of IPC’s terminals or ‘soft’ trading communications solution. The open platform approach has transformed how financial institutions consume applications, share data, and optimise workflows and has helped modernise legacy technologies used by companies with new productivity tools. 

David Brown, IPC

David Brown joined IPC, a global leader of secure, compliant communications and networking solutions for the global financial markets, in 2003 and is now Chief Operating Officer. He is responsible for global product, technology, research and development, operations and support, and leading significant and complex integration initiatives.

What has been the traditional IPC response to financial technology innovations nationally?

IPC has always strived to provide our customers with the best and latest technological solutions on the market and make the trading environment more efficient and productive. Throughout our history, IPC has built its reputation on providing high-quality services to financial market participants. 

We believe this is fundamental as the financial markets are the backbones of our nations, so we need to be able to ensure that even in times of crisis and adversity, financial market participants can rely on our solutions and continue to operate smoothly, wherever in the world they may be, while complying with the stringent regulations of the sector.

How has this changed over the past few years?

We recognised early on the benefits of the cloud and software-as-a-service (SaaS) solutions – such as its ease of implementation, cost-effectiveness, and customisable opportunities for customers – but we understood we would have to overcome the initial security concerns within the financial services industry. 

In the last few years though, we have seen the cloud and SaaS solutions flood the business landscape as the security capabilities delivered by public hyperscale cloud infrastructure providers have become far more reliant and robust. With the arrival of COVID-19 earlier this year, the adoption of these technologies has been further accelerated to power the remote-working model and provide much-needed support for companies during this difficult time.

Is there anything that has created a culture of change inside the company?

Although IPC has long offered cloud and SaaS solutions to support a company’s business continuity plans, it wasn’t until the sudden outbreak of COVID-19 that we all learned the real value of having a thorough and well-considered business continuity plan in place. 

Our customers turned to us for support during the remote-work transition to guarantee they were ready for the digitally connected and decentralised world. We saw the sales of our soft client solutions, such as IQ/MAX Omni, shoot up and we are still working hard to ensure we are serving our customers, with an increased focus on providing agility and mobility. 

What Fintech ideas have been implemented?

Part of our business strategy over the past few years has been to partner with pioneering fintechs to help build and develop new and innovative solutions for the market. One result of this has been the creation of our “App Store” alongside OpenFin which enables traders to leverage IPC-developed applications seamlessly and efficiently alongside proprietary, client-developed applications without the need for native integration. Traders can also integrate third-party applications available within the OpenFin ecosystem directly onto IPC-powered trading communications workflows. 

What benefits have these brought?

One of IPC’s solutions currently available for users on our “App Store” is Blotter, a data visualisation solution that structures and digitises voice communication sent over IPC’s IQ/MAX Touch terminal. When running within the OpenFin environment, Blotter can organically share data across multiple applications and vendor platforms to enable automation of complex trading workflows. 

We believe a shared and open tech stack is critical in ensuring the interoperability of our applications that are revolutionising how trading desks share data and communicate with each other. By incorporating inventive fintech ideas in our solutions, we are helping financial institutions with their digitisation journeys.

Do you see any other industry challenges on the horizon?

There have been reports of potential breaches of market rules rising for the financial services industry during this period of remote working which has caught the attention of regulators. As the economy has also been impacted by the pandemic, punitive action will want to be avoided at all costs. 

Until there is a cure for the coronavirus, a second and even third wave is a distinct possibility, so issues around surveillance and complying with regulations no matter where traders are working need to be resolved. Regulators may have to issue new guidelines to facilitate the changing conditions, while financial firms will also need to accommodate for those that do not want to or cannot return to physical trading floors.

Can these challenges be aided by Fintech?

Cloud-based services will continue to be fundamental for financial companies as these solutions can address both regulatory concerns and help traders create a virtual trading floor all from the safety of their homes. By leveraging the cloud and SaaS, significant savings on infrastructure and management costs can be made which will be a huge relief for financial firms that may need to be more fiscally prudent until the global economy is back on its feet. 

Final thoughts?

All industries are experiencing great transformations with their business landscape and the financial services sector is no exception. Any downtime can be devastating for the financial markets, so businesses need to be resilient and ensure the essential work of traders is not hampered in any way by utilising the innovative new technologies that fintechs have to offer during these unprecedented times.

  • Gina is a FinTech journalist (BA, MA) who works across broadcast and print. She has written for most national newspapers and started her career in BBC local radio.

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