Feed

Feed 2016-11-19T04:26:49+00:00

Man or Machine: Who Are The Real Trading Champions?

Despite dramatic changes to the fortunes of quantitative trading strategies of late, they still represent the extremes of "technology leverage" in the global markets ecosystem. This means that due to a high level of workflow automation, these types of firms generate more output - as measured by revenue per employee (RPE) - than any others in the industry. Or, so we thought... In the context of its broader research mission, Alphacution has been focused - perhaps even a [...]

By | September 20th, 2017|Alphacution Feed|

Bulge Bank Headcount Index: Rare Uptick in Q2

It's only happened twice since the peak, recorded nearly 6 years ago (at the end of Q3 2011): Alphacution's bulge bank headcount index has recorded a rare uptick, as of the end of Q2 2017 (see Exhibit, below). Now, of course, it may be too soon to sound the trumpets that a major turn has been made for headcount in the global banking sector. The moves - in either direction - are still small. Although, who knows? Maybe [...]

By | August 30th, 2017|Alphacution Feed|

Automation May Require More People

Here's  a quick jolt of provocative thought, just in case your brain - like mine - has become a little soft over these summer months: Talk of AI and various other forms of process automation have reached a fever pitch. With that phenomenon comes a flood of new intelligence - and also a heavy dose of mythology. Sometimes the difference between the two is not immediately obvious. The idea that automation has a tendency to kill jobs is [...]

By | August 24th, 2017|Alphacution Feed|

Operational Clues: Asset Managers Shifting Strategies

You can track shifting asset class and/or strategy allocations over several years for a long list of asset managers, and then add it all up to arrive at a data-driven industry trend. Easier said than done. This is an extremely heavy lift without the aid of a database that has already aggregated such information - if at all.  But, we think there is another way to generate such a signal that yields a similar conclusion (if you know how to read the tea [...]

By | June 28th, 2017|Alphacution Feed|

Technical Leverage in Context

Alphacution defines technical leverage as the difference between revenue per employee (RPE) and technology spending per employee. In the parlance of our T-Greeks benchmarking framework, this difference is also known as T-Spread. I stumbled over the chart below - 50 companies in the S&P 500 with the highest RPE rankings for 2016 - recently and thought it would be notable to add to the knowledgebase. Since our modeling and analysis currently focuses exclusively on companies related to the [...]

By | June 20th, 2017|Alphacution Feed|

IT Services: A Force Multiplier?

The following is the opening segment from our most recent study - "IT Services and Strategic Impacts for Global Banks: The Force Multiplier" -  published via our partner, Aite Group. Learn more about how to access the full report here. Today, outsourced IT services are firmly embedded in all industries and most large corporations. Alphacution’s message to financial sector clients and other buyers of IT services is both blessing and curse: The global IT services sector continues to be [...]

By | June 13th, 2017|Alphacution Feed|

Global Banking Brain Drain Slowing

Brain drain - in this case meaning the loss of valuable human capital - is one of those silent malignancies in an organization that is difficult to measure, and the impacts from which are typically not realized until the damage has already been done. With the global banking sector - and its constituent business segments, from retail banking to wealth management to capital markets - still in the midst of unprecedented and persistent transformation, the risk of ongoing losses [...]

By | June 1st, 2017|Alphacution Feed|

The Dawn of Operational Alpha

They say, it is always darkest before the dawn. They don't say, however, that no one is up and working their asses off before the first light of a new day... By many accounts, the concept of operational alpha has been around for years. I first heard this term in the context of Citadel's launch of its eponymous, mid- and back-office technology externalization effort, Citadel Solutions - later known as Omnium. Citadel even went so far as to [...]

By | May 25th, 2017|Alphacution Feed|

Deconstructing Hewlett Packard: More Clues to Indigenous Productivity

Remember the game show, Name That Tune? (Look it up...) What if I told you that the basic rubric from that game show - naming a song in fewer notes than your opponent - was useful for predicting all kinds facts about trading and other financial businesses. Tell me your trading strategy and AUM, I can tell you how many employees you have. You are an investment bank with 30,000 employees, I can guess your total technology budget. The list of [...]

By | May 16th, 2017|Alphacution Feed|

Nasdaq: Under Virtu Market Data Axe

A quick math assignment: @Nasdaq earned $540 million in information services (aka - #marketdata) revenue in 2016, up 5.5% over 2015 (and, not to put to fine a point on it, but this growth is slowing as 2015 v. 2014  was +8.2%). @KCGHQ spent $148 million on communications and data processing in 2016. @VirtuFinancial is on its way to acquiring KCG - and is on record with a strategy to ultimately consolidate both operations onto a single, unified trading platform. [...]

By | April 28th, 2017|Alphacution Feed|

The Source of #AI Hype

Apple doesn't mention it... Amazon doesn't mention it... Alphabet (aka - Google) does mention it - but doesn't link it specifically to financial performance... IBM? You betcha. More than 155 times... In case you have been living under a rock - which, now that I think of it, has some increasing allure - artificial intelligence (and its slightly less sexy twin, machine learning) has succeeded 2016's marketing darling, blockchain, to become the blinking-neon-sign-outside-your-hotel-room term for 2017. Sorry, folks. The budgets [...]

By | April 27th, 2017|Alphacution Feed|

Done Deal: Virtu Financial + KCG Holdings

We've moved a major step towards a done deal here. Good news is that this remains far from a done story. Easy access to financial and operational data about the outer extremes of technical leverage in the global financial services sector provides great fodder for a story that will continue to inform and fascinate. Along those lines, and in addition to the updated deal news, both parties disclosed results from the most recent quarter today. With that, I thought it would [...]

By | April 21st, 2017|Alphacution Feed|

Trojan Horse or Savior? IT Services Continue to Infiltrate Banking Operations

How far can it go? The relationship between large banks, financial services firms, and insurance companies - sometimes simply known by the acronym BFSI - and large IT services and outsourcing firms, like Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), Infosys, or Cognizant Technology Solutions (among several others), has become increasingly and consistently cozy and pervasive over the past decade or so. In the rearview mirror, this development makes total sense. We all now live in a perpetual "more for less" environment. And, [...]

By | April 20th, 2017|Alphacution Feed|

Unmet Need: Benchmarking Returns on FinTech Investments (w/ Webinar Playback)

Having a hunch is one thing. Quantifying that hunch is another thing entirely. Since its launch, Alphacution's primary hunch - and a factor that drives its mission - has been that measuring the impact of information technology investments within the financial services ecosystem is 1) super important, and 2) not something that firms currently do very often. Of course, we are  nearly 2 years into an ambitious modeling and framework development exercise based on far more than hunches. There has been a [...]

By | April 18th, 2017|Alphacution Feed|

@VirtuFinancial Pulls the Trigger on @KCG: Here’s a Bit More…

Here's an update from the initial post on March 15, 2017... The first wave of commentary is in, and the consensus seems to be that the unsolicited bid by Virtu for KCG is all "about the little guy." In other words, this deal is all about the position of a wholesaler relative to retail order flow. Maybe so. There is also some suggestion that these firms are not competitors; that, in fact, they may be complementary. Ok, I guess. But, widen your interpretation [...]

By | March 21st, 2017|Alphacution Feed|

@VirtuFinancial Pulls the Trigger on @KCG: Here’s Why…

@VirtuFinancial bid for KCG Holdings (@KCGHQ) today. Here's why: In the chart below, average daily adjusted net trading revenue for Q4-2016 returns to levels not seen since late 2013 / early 2014. Chances are quite high that persistent low volatility during Q1-2017 - which has only a dozen trading days left in it - has caused these figure to fall back to pre-2013 levels. A situation like that needs a good distraction; something that can change the narrative and [...]

By | March 15th, 2017|Alphacution Feed|

Financial Technology Impacts: YOU are in Darkness – And, THIS is a Flashlight.

Disclaimer: Opinions and a grain or two of salty language contained herein are solely those of the author. Save your time. Just, pick up the flashlight now. Ok. Here's some bait: Chances are quite high that you are searching for answers in the darkness (amidst the chaos). And the tools that you have at your disposal - typically in the form of 5,000 or 10,000 word salads with few pictures and fewer numbers from a "pedigreed" purveyor of guidance - actually do not emit much [...]

By | March 15th, 2017|Alphacution Feed|

Welcome Back to 2006: Top #InvestmentBanking Headcount Roundtrip

Well, it would have been the Top 10 investment banks, but @Barclays doesn't publish quarterly headcount for some reason. Maybe they will help us fix that. Anyway, for the Top 9 investment banks, total headcount is down 13% from its peak in Q3 2011. And, with at least 2 of the 9 - @Deutsche Bank and @CreditSuisse - reporting significant headcount reductions for the road ahead as part their year-end 2016 financial releases and 2017 guidance, it's not much of a [...]

By | March 2nd, 2017|Alphacution Feed|

@GoldmanSachs: This Is What (Process) Innovation Looks Like

If you are only interested in reading hyperbole-laced stories about the latest shiny things in #fintech innovation, then what follows is not for you. But, if you actually care about innovation that results in real impacts, then we invite you to keep reading. From the following angle, something changed around mid-2012 at @GoldmanSachs. Arguably, the groundwork for such change was laid prior to that time, but the impact of that groundwork (at least to observers like us) didn't become [...]

By | February 16th, 2017|Alphacution Feed|

@DeutscheBank: Predicting the Pace of Shrinkage

If today's announcement by Deutsche Bank CEO, John Cryan, is to be believed, total group headcount is set to be reduced by 9,000 souls. Note that these reductions will come from a year-end 2016 flock of 99,744 (which, by the way, is still within 2.3% of the all-time high of 102,062 set at year-end 2010). We decided to look into our DB model to take a quick read of the expected pace of these reductions. Here's the setup: Over [...]

By | February 3rd, 2017|Alphacution Feed|

Dodd-Frank in Douchebagistan (During the Age of Radical Innovation)

Here's an Inauguration Day rant for you: They hadn't even finished counting the ballots for the new POTUS when, on November 10, 2016, one of the great poster-children for modern-day douchebaggery, Alan Greenspan (@realGREENSPAN)  said to CNBC "I'd love to see Dodd-Frank disappear; a "disastrous mistake." Hasn't this guy figured out that he is way past his sell-by date? Anyway, just bookmark the timing of that statement while I set up today's metaphor: Roll back the clock a few decades to [...]

By | January 20th, 2017|Alphacution Feed|

@VirtuFinancial: Valor #HFT Morghulis

If you read Part 1 to this post (from December 15, 2016) then you know that at least as of the end of 2015, financial reports from HFT bellwether Virtu Financial illustrated strong and even increasing profitability. Our surprise from these impressive figures came from the countervailing hypothesis that HFT was already well past its prime (given the evidence of prop shop closings and consolidations over the past 5 years or so). Apparently, Virtu didn’t get that memo. However, upon [...]

By | January 12th, 2017|Alphacution Feed|

Investors Beware: #Robo-Blindness Ahead

I'm on the fence when it comes to the "robo-advisory" craze. Clearly, given the gush of venture money and subsequent marketing buzz behind automated trading and investing methods for the masses, lots of very smart folks think that "robots" managing your money (on an highly automated or assisted basis) are here to stay. Note that in 2016 Betterment and Personal Capital bagged rounds of $100 million and $75 million, respectively. Here's the first shoe: Quantitative methods for retail investors were always inevitable once a sufficient [...]

By | January 10th, 2017|Alphacution Feed|

@VirtuFinancial: Let the good #HFT times roll!

It's March 25, 2016 - and I crack open the newly minted 10-K from our friends at Virtu Financial. The equivalent of that new car smell wafts northward from its fresh digital pages. The anticipation is palpable. With years of intense focus and vigorous debate on the mechanics of #HFT - and the jealous wonderment surrounding its stratospheric profitability - it is both rare and puzzling that the public should get a real, data-driven look inside to support [...]

By | December 15th, 2016|Alphacution Feed|

Top Hedge Funds: AUM per Employee = Trading Strategy?

We have been playing with some new equations; looking to see if anything interesting can be learned from benchmarking assets per employee across various firms. (It turns out that adding this analytic to our suite of other "per employee" metrics yields significant insights.) In the figure below, we took the top 10 hedge funds ranked by assets under management (AUM) and then re-ranked that list by AUM per employee. We also tossed in Virtu Financial and KCG (Getco) [...]

By | December 14th, 2016|Alphacution Feed|

Digital Noise in the Fintech Space – Numerix Video Blog Series

In this FIFTH and final installment of a five-part video blog series Jim Jockle, CMO of Numerix sits down with Paul Rowady, Director of Research at Alphacution to discuss the recent FinTech Revolution. They discuss how firms are gearing themselves towards a digital culture, and how companies are working to distinguish themselves in this new age. The five videos cover the following: Part 1: Paralysis by Analysis: Preparation & Analyzation for Digital Disruption Part 2: IT Outsourcing and [...]

By | December 6th, 2016|Alphacution Feed|

Technological Implications of Cultural Transformation – Numerix Video Blog Series

In this FOURTH of a five-part video blog series Jim Jockle, CMO of Numerix sits down with Paul Rowady, Director of Research at Alphacution to discuss the recent FinTech Revolution. They discuss how firms are gearing themselves towards a digital culture, and how companies are working to distinguish themselves in this new age. The five videos cover the following: Part 1: Paralysis by Analysis: Preparation & Analyzation for Digital Disruption Part 2: IT Outsourcing and Transformation Part 3: [...]

By | December 5th, 2016|Alphacution Feed|

Revolutionizing FinTech and the World of Data Automation – Numerix Video Blog Series

In this THIRD of a five-part video blog series Jim Jockle, CMO of Numerix sits down with Paul Rowady, Director of Research at Alphacution to discuss the recent FinTech Revolution. They discuss how firms are gearing themselves towards a digital culture, and how companies are working to distinguish themselves in this new age. The five videos cover the following: Part 1: Paralysis by Analysis: Preparation & Analyzation for Digital Disruption Part 2: IT Outsourcing and Transformation Part 3: [...]

By | December 4th, 2016|Alphacution Feed|

IT Outsourcing and Transformation – Numerix Video Blog Series

In this SECOND of a five-part video blog series Jim Jockle, CMO of Numerix sits down with Paul Rowady, Director of Research at Alphacution to discuss the recent FinTech Revolution. They discuss how firms are gearing themselves towards a digital culture, and how companies are working to distinguish themselves in this new age. The five videos cover the following: Part 1: Paralysis by Analysis: Preparation & Analyzation for Digital Disruption Part 2: IT Outsourcing and Transformation Part 3: [...]

By | December 3rd, 2016|Alphacution Feed|

Paralysis by Analysis for Digital Disruption – Numerix Video Blog Series

In this FIRST of a five-part video blog series Jim Jockle, CMO of Numerix sits down with Paul Rowady, Director of Research at Alphacution to discuss the recent FinTech Revolution. They discuss how firms are gearing themselves towards a digital culture, and how companies are working to distinguish themselves in this new age. The five videos cover the following: Part 1: Paralysis by Analysis: Preparation & Analyzation for Digital Disruption Part 2: IT Outsourcing and Transformation Part 3: [...]

By | December 2nd, 2016|Alphacution Feed|

Feed Your Cognitive Taste Buds: Collaboration Will Expedite Validation

As you gorge yourself on the latest curated fire hose of content today, this post may waft onto your cognitive taste buds like a shameless plug. Fine. Like a herd of squirrels, here comes the next and the next and the next tweet anyways, just right for your canine attention span. It's all good, and no hard feelings. We will aspire to catch you with the next tidbit or on a different modality... But for those of you [...]

By | October 14th, 2016|Alphacution Feed, News, Press|

Ding-a-L-ING Group’s Deconstruction

On Monday, 3 October, ING Group - formerly the Netherlands' largest lender and one of the world's largest financial conglomerates - announced plans to cut 7,000 jobs from its ranks of about 52,000 in order to invest in digital platforms that are expected to generate annual savings of 900 million euros ($1 billion) by 2021. Beyond this, what is fascinating about ING is the rare glimpse it gives us into the post-global financial crisis (GFC) dismantling of one of [...]

By | October 4th, 2016|Alphacution Feed|

Thomson Reuters publishes “Quantifying the Transformation”

Everything takes longer than you initially think it will. Never a truer statement made, particularly when it comes to the following: Negotiated, commissioned and subsequently developed  - and then re-vamped - for completion on an expedited timeline last spring (2016), our first annual deep-dive study into technology spending patterns among the largest global banks was only recently published by client-partner Thomson Reuters. We have referenced this work and output regularly over the past several months, but there is [...]

By | October 3rd, 2016|Alphacution Feed|

Navigational FinTelligence: The Method and the Madness

This post includes a metaphor, an anecdote and a vision.  Ready?  Here's the sketch: A magician - who was prone to playing the "long ball" - sought to develop the world's greatest card trick. True to form, the magician asks a volunteer to pick a card, sign his name to it, and put it back in the deck. The magician then claims to transport that card into a tree. When the tree was cut down immediately thereafter, the autographed [...]

By | September 23rd, 2016|Alphacution Feed|

Can (Digital) Transformation Be Measured?

A sextant is an optical navigation device used by sailors starting around 1730. With practice, it can prove quite accurate in plotting courses. Though the contemporary digital equivalent - a global positioning system (GPS) - has become the mainstream tool for navigation, sextants are still in use today among a small but avid group of yachtsman, survivalists and cognoscenti. Keep this migration in mind as we walk through today's question: Can (digital) transformation be measured? Our answer to [...]

By | September 20th, 2016|Alphacution Feed|

Bank Technology Rant: You are Noah, This is the Flood…

Do you recognize this guy above? That's right. He's Captain Obvious! Captain Obvious is the guy who preaches to the choir; tells Noah about the flood... Get it?  Good. Let's move on. Here's the translation for today's rant: "Noah" is a Top 10 investment bank, the "flood" in this case is McKinsey & Company, or - I suspect - any of the other global management consulting powerhouses. Today, I "learned" from both Financial Times and Business Insider the following (from [...]

By | September 16th, 2016|Alphacution Feed|

Back to the Front: Post-Trade Processing Getting Sexy-er

If you happen to hear the drumbeat of these things called "operational analytics" getting louder, then you just may be dialed in to the subtle downstream impacts of some of today's most common headlines related to financial enterprise transformation. For instance, the fintech revolution we are living through - with all its new-fangled and often overly-hyped gadgetry - is really about harnessing the opportunity for unprecedented process efficiencies. But, while it is a soothing distraction to daydream about deploying [...]

By | September 14th, 2016|Alphacution Feed|

#ResearchTools or Research ‘Tools’?

I have been holding on to this rant since Friday (unfortunately) - so here it is for your Monday morning coffee or commute enjoyment... Scenario: Surfing my Twitter feed and I stumble over a new piece of research (from a well-known group) which is being distributed and promoted by a well-known, bulge-bracket tech firm. The headline "hook" language is compelling.  It reads something like: "The essential ingredients for digital transformation" yada, yada.  So, I bite - recognizing the players [...]

By | July 25th, 2016|Alphacution Feed|

#Launchpad: Introducing the New Alphacution Website and Content

Our team has largely been on hiatus for the past couple months developing several new assets, including most notably our new Alphacution "content storage, distribution and promotion application" - er - website, and a bunch of new content to go in it which begins to showcase our research methodologies and initial modeling output. For the attention-deficit crowd (and those who are not already reading this on the site), you can skip the following shout-outs and contextual comments by [...]

By | July 19th, 2016|Alphacution Feed|

Higher exchange fees for data seen after judge nixes SIFMA case

Originally published by Reuters here. Markets | Tue Jul 5, 2016 5:27pm EDT By Herbert Lash A judge for the Securities and Exchange Commission opened the door for U.S. exchanges to charge more for their high-speed data products, a move that could reduce the number of high-frequency trading firms that trade large quantities of securities. Brenda Murray, chief administrative law judge for the SEC, last month rejected a petition by a brokerage lobby to set aside fee increases [...]

By | July 5th, 2016|Press|

Investing in #Transformation: What’s the ROI? | Numerix Video Blog Series

Understanding FinTech #Transformation: In this FIFTH of a five part video blog series Jim Jockle, CMO of Numerix sits down with Paul Rowady, Director of Research at Alphacution to discuss the concept of #Transformation. Jim and Paul provide their perspectives on the latest examples of transformation they’re observing in the financial services industry specifically around the cross section of IT spending trends, software vs hardware investment, human capital expense, IT infrastructure, data management and risk analytics innovations. The [...]

By | May 17th, 2016|Alphacution Feed|

#Transformation and TCO | Numerix Video Blog Series

Understanding FinTech #Transformation:  In this FOURTH of a five part video blog series Jim Jockle, CMO of Numerix sits down with Paul Rowady, Director of Research at Alphacution to discuss the concept of #Transformation. Jim and Paul provide their perspectives on the latest examples of transformation they’re observing in the financial services industry specifically around the cross section of IT spending trends, software vs hardware investment, human capital expense, IT infrastructure, data management and risk analytics innovations. The [...]

By | May 10th, 2016|Alphacution Feed|

The Cost of #Transformation | Numerix Video Blog Series

Understanding FinTech #Transformation: In this THIRD of a five part video blog series Jim Jockle, CMO of Numerix sits down with Paul Rowady, Director of Research at Alphacution to discuss the concept of #Transformation. Jim and Paul provide their perspectives on the latest examples of transformation they’re observing in the financial services industry specifically around the cross section of IT spending trends, software vs hardware investment, human capital expense, IT infrastructure, data management and risk analytics innovations. The [...]

By | May 3rd, 2016|Alphacution Feed|

Quantifying #Transformation | Numerix Video Blog Series

Understanding FinTech #Transformation: In this SECOND of a five part video blog series Jim Jockle, CMO of Numerix sits down with Paul Rowady, Director of Research at Alphacution to discuss the concept of #Transformation. Jim and Paul provide their perspectives on the latest examples of transformation they’re observing in the financial services industry specifically around the cross section of IT spending trends, software vs hardware investment, human capital expense, IT infrastructure, data management and risk analytics innovations. The [...]

By | April 26th, 2016|Alphacution Feed|

Defining #Transformation within Financial Services | Numerix Video Blog Series

Understanding FinTech #Transformation: In this FIRST of a five part video blog series, Jim Jockle, CMO of Numerix sits down with Paul Rowady, Director of Research at Alphacution to discuss the concept of #Transformation. Jim and Paul provide their perspectives on the latest examples of transformation they’re observing in the financial services industry specifically around the cross section of IT spending trends, software vs hardware investment, human capital expense, IT infrastructure, data management and risk analytics innovations. The [...]

By | April 19th, 2016|Alphacution Feed|

#PassingTheBuck: Deutsche Bank / Hewlett-Packard Enterprise Case Study (Part II)

Part I of this post can be found here Here’s the central question: After one year, does Hewlett-Packard Enterprise deliver tech savings for Deutsche Bank? (And, is this a harbinger or a template for other large banks and market participants?) With the Annual Report and other financial disclosures released on March 11, 2016, Deutsche Bank (DB) has completed its 2015 reporting. Our original curiosity here was to determine if a technology outsourcing alliance between Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) [...]

By | March 16th, 2016|Alphacution Feed|

#DigitalDisruption: Process Replacement vs. Process Re-engineering

Behold! The first Alphacution video, with our good friend Jim Jockle, Chief Marketing Officer, Numerix. Before you move on to the video, I wanted to add a few comments: In this segment, I emphasize that one of the key challenges faced by large financial organizations - primarily thinking of the largest global banks, since this has been where we have focused much of our analysis and modeling of late - is process refinement or process re-engineering; that the [...]

By | March 8th, 2016|Alphacution Feed|

#PassingTheBuck: DB-HPE Tech Outsourcing Deal, 1-Year Anniversary

Squeezing more performance from less costly technology footprints is a perpetual imperative for all businesses in the digital age. Unlike the latest – and ongoing – turbulence on the surface of the global markets seas, something slower, somewhat mysterious and much more evolutionary is going on down in the deep. One might argue that the largest global banks head the list of those businesses that are among the most in need of “more-for-less” transformation. As a result, monitoring [...]

By | March 2nd, 2016|Alphacution Feed|

#CrowdedOut: Banks’ Technology Spending Paradox

They really don’t have a choice here. And yet, in this “everything is customizable and personalize-able” world in which we now live, we have grown to expect that there is always an infinite spectrum of choices available. Not so much when it comes to banks’ spending on technical infrastructure. It turns out that internally-developed software costs (which we believe includes both proprietary and consultant-developed software) are the fastest growing component of our technology total cost of ownership (TCO) [...]

By | February 11th, 2016|Alphacution Feed|

Yellen and Me: The Catalyst Behind the Rate Decision

< This is a test. This station is conducting a test of the Emergency Broadcast System. This is only a test.> I had been in this room before. It was the early post-Dodd Frank days. Maybe February 2012. I had authored a study on the impacts of new regulations on collateral and initial margin requirements for OTC derivatives (OTCDs). The study had been commissioned and was being promoted by the World Federation of Exchanges (WFE). Largely as a [...]

By | December 15th, 2015|Alphacution Feed|

#DigitalMythology: The Searing Truth of Context

The primary goals of this ongoing series of research are to quantify - in increasing detail - what the members of the financial services industry (FSI) ecosystem spend on technology (including hardware, software, data and IT human capital) – which is sometimes referred to as (enterprise) total cost of ownership (TCO); develop benchmarks and analytics that help describe the absolute and relative nature of these spending patterns; and then, use the findings to confirm, deny, expand the prevailing [...]

By | December 6th, 2015|Alphacution Feed|

#DigitalFrontier: Guiding Lights for the Analog Galaxy

Before everyone heads off to worship at the Altar of Tryptophan for a few days, I wanted to share some updated analysis: (I promise to keep it as short as possible, but unfortunately no less dense than usual.) In a recent post, #Technical Leverage: Can You Defy Your Scale?, I added Google’s (and Virtu Financial’s) RPE (revenue per employee) analytics to our core assembly of the 51 largest global banks. Given Google’s stand-out RPE of US$ 1.23 million [...]

By | November 24th, 2015|Alphacution Feed|

#TechnicalVirtuosity: The Player is the Special Sauce

Once upon a time, a few clicks back into my youth from now, I fancied myself a fairly decent piano player. That illusion came to an abrupt demise when I met Fred Johnson. On the surface, Fred was as milquetoast-Midwestern as they come. You might have expected hay to fly out of his mouth when he spoke. But, that assessment would have been seriously flawed, as I soon learned. It turns outs that Fred was blessed with perfect [...]

By | November 19th, 2015|Alphacution Feed|

#Technical Leverage: Can You Defy Your Scale?

If you believe the latest bromides, “IT strategy is business strategy”, then the success of any business is predicated on the deployment of technology – which includes the perpetual coordination of hardware, software, data and IT-related personnel (or human capital). Alphacution has applied this hypothesis to the financial services industry (FSI), first by modeling the technology-related spending of 51 of the largest global banks – arguably among the biggest buyers of technology in the FSI ecosystem – and [...]

By | November 12th, 2015|Alphacution Feed|

#DigitalTransformation: (More) Clues to Shifting Financial Services Technology (Part II)

The following is Part 2 in the series “#DigitalTransformation: Clues to Shifting FinTech” published on November 2, 2015. Digital crumbs don’t discriminate. They illuminate everything. True to this, and despite intense focus on cloud-based offerings, infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) and other managed services solutions, the digital transformation in the financial services industry (FSI) is by no means confined to hardware. Software development in FSI is in the midst of its own revolution, as well. In either case, and by my [...]

By | November 11th, 2015|Alphacution Feed|

#DigitalMantra: The Key to Operational Agility

Clear your mind and repeat after me: “I am a revenue center.” Again: “I am a revenue center.” Again: “I am a revenue center.” Practice this mantra until it influences your perspective on your own work. I actually tried this stunt at the end of a presentation to an audience of data specialists and related personnel at a recent FIMA Canada conference. Though there appeared to be a quiet skepticism at such an unorthodox request from the stage, [...]

By | November 10th, 2015|Alphacution Feed|

#DigitalTransformation: Clues to Shifting Financial Services Technology (Part I)

Digital crumbs are everywhere. Like the fabled trail left behind for others to follow and discover, there are fascinating clues to be harvested from increasingly abundant data. Yes, the fast-streaming and big data versions of these digital crumbs offer untold clues and patterns – but only seen after applying the latest apparatus to the chore. There are also amazing clues to be discovered by picking up one crumb at a time (often by hand) - and then assembling [...]

By | November 2nd, 2015|Alphacution Feed|

#TechnologyVolatility (T-VOL)

According to Al Pacino, as Coach Tony D’Amato in the movie, Any Given Sunday, “this is a game of inches - the margin for error is so small - and the inches we need are all around us.” With this in mind, it turns out that measuring technology spending in detail represents some of those so-called inches. Personally, I have found such an analysis to yield really incredible and exciting insights – representing more than just a few [...]

By | October 27th, 2015|Alphacution Feed|

#humanlatency

Though you may have fully gorged yourself on tales of latency over the past few years, I’m here to tell you that that overall story is far from over. Reason being, there is more than one form of latency – and the value (or cost – depending on your perspective) of at least one of the other types of latency will make the first narrative – the super-sexy knocking-on-the-door-of-the-speed-of-light version – seem like the Leda moon orbiting Jupiter. This is [...]

By | October 22nd, 2015|Alphacution Feed|

#GlobalTCO

Ever wonder what the global financial services ecosystem spends on technology? I have - obsessively. The size and shifts of this market – and the tapestry of moving parts within it – is extremely valuable intelligence for all players in the FSI ecosystem. Moreover, with the intense focus in recent years on topics like “XaaS”, clouds, solid state memory, Hadoop clusters and so many other symbols of fintech innovation it is abundantly clear that this is the one puzzle [...]

By | October 22nd, 2015|Alphacution Feed|

#Digital Research

We live in a “do-as-I-say-not-as-I-do” immersion chamber. Such seemingly benign hypocrisy is so pervasive that we are blindly oblivious to it. And, though there are many targets at which we could point this critique, let’s take the research and advisory business for capital markets and financial services – since the FSI ecosystem is the purpose of the work we are starting here. Digital everything / digital anything quickly went viral; becoming the bumper sticker for 2015. Those of [...]

By | October 19th, 2015|Alphacution Feed|