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Trade Talk Blog: Report from FIA Boca 2017: Clear Skies and Sunshine


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FIA Boca 2017

Another FIA Boca conference (#FIABoca) is in the books. Despite a snowstorm that hit the midwest and east coast, creating travel challenges for many, about 1,100 attendees from a record 25 countries eventually made it to the historic “pink resort” to gain insight from industry thought leaders, network with connections old and new, and soak in the Boca Raton scene and sun.

Boca 2017 was sentimental for all of us at Trading Technologies because it marked the two-year anniversary of the TT® platform’s launch. Our CEO Rick Lane shared how watching the TT platform grow over the past two years was in many ways like raising his twin two-year-old toddlers: “In many ways, the milestones they’ve achieved in their second year of life mirror the same of the technology platform in which TT has invested so much.” Read his full story in “TT at Two.”



As we did last year, Trading Technologies kicked off Tuesday’s agenda with a tennis tournament to benefit Futures For Kids (FFK). A great time was had by all, and although the donations are still being tallied, I believe we reached our fundraising goal of $5,000. Thanks to everyone who participated and donated.


In his opening remarks on Tuesday afternoon, FIA President and CEO Walt Lukken spoke about the current regulatory environment being out of balance, tipped too far towards protection and away from growth. Excessive regulation—including Dodd-Frank’s >22k pages—has negatively impacted the industry’s ability to thrive. He called for smart regulation and enforcement, globally accessible markets, and innovation and competition.



The theme continued in the opening panel, with representatives from UBS, the DTCC, OCC, NEX Group and DRW Trading “gobsmacking” the regulators for “gotcha regulation” that’s stifled growth. But they also acknowledged that the industry has continued to innovate despite the challenging environment, and that the markets are stronger now than they were before the crisis.


Wednesday opened with a fireside chat featuring Lord William Hague, former member of the UK Parliament whose past titles have included UK Foreign Secretary, Leader of the House of Commons and Head of the Conservative Party. Topics on the docket included Brexit (the world’s most complicated divorce) and the French election (Marine Le Pen won’t win).


Following breakfast, acting CFTC chair Chris Giancarlo, who was officially nominated by President Trump to head the agency the day prior, delivered his keynote address to a full room. Giancarlo announced his new three-part agenda aimed at fostering economic growth, enhancing U.S. financial markets and right-sizing the regulatory footprint. With that, he introduced Project KISS (yes, that stands for Keep It Simple Stupid) and spoke of his plan to review the CFTC rules, regulations and practices “to make them simpler, less burdensome and less costly.” The full text of his speech, which drew a rousing standing ovation, is available here.



Walt Lukken interviewed Blythe Masters, CEO of Digital Asset Holdings, about potential applications in our industry for distributed ledger technology (DLT). Although widespread use of blockchain has yet to emerge, Masters noted that with tech powerhouses like Google, IBM, Amazon and others investing “huge” amounts of money in the technology, “you know something’s going on.” She talked of how DLT might be used to combat cyber security and other threats, and how margin and collateral requirements present the biggest opportunities for the use of blockchain in the financial markets.



The exchange leaders panel saw CME Group’s Terry Duffy, Nasdaq’s Adena Friedman, Singapore Exchange’s Loh Boon Chye, ICE’s Jeff Sprecher and Deutsche Boerse’s Jeffrey Tessler debating global issues. Among them: the potential geographic shift of swaps clearing, the challenges of cross-border mergers and the global regulatory environment.



Lunch featured former British Prime Minister David Cameron speaking to a packed and very attentive room. A lively and well-rehearsed speaker, Cameron was full of stories that both entertained and educated. In addition to of course speaking about Brexit, he told about riding in Air Force One, golfing at Mar-a-Lago, getting a conversation with Vladimir Putin interrupted by his daughter playing a Disney video, and his strategy for keeping translators out of the G8 talks (build a table too small to accommodate more than the eight world leaders).



All in all, it was a great week, with attendees expressing optimism for the industry after a challenging number of years. If I’ve piqued your interest with this summary and you want more from Boca, I highly recommend the coverage from Futures Radio. Host Anthony Crudele recorded several interviews at the conference including “Seven Minutes with Seven Industry Leaders,” which features our own Rick Lane.



Thanks to the team at FIA for organizing another fantastic week filled with provocative discussions and networking. Next up, we’ll see you at IDX London in June.