Forefront Communications

TabbFORUM: What Wall Street Can Learn From Silicon Valley

Sam Belden

Sam Belden

OpenFin‘s Mazy Dar says when it comes to application development, too many Wall Street firms continue to follow legacy processes designed for a world we no longer live in. If we don’t learn from Silicon Valley, it’s only a matter of time before they come and eat our lunch.

Wall Street is a paradox: Firms are obsessed with speed, going to great lengths to save microseconds on trade executions; yet for the desktop applications that power those same trading desks, they are incredibly slow to move.

In more than 20 years working on Wall Street in a variety of capacities, I’ve found most of the issues faced by developers boil down to three types of factors: security, regulatory and legacy. While these obstacles are here to stay, we can learn how to better navigate them by watching our friends in Silicon Valley.

As an example, getting a new app on your phone is simple: Just go to the app store, tap the screen a couple of times and there it is. The apps update automatically, so providers don’t have to deal with multiple versions of their app in production or take support calls for problems they’ve already fixed.

On Wall Street, this process works a bit differently. Apps are delivered via “software packaging,” a process which has remained largely unchanged since the late ’90s. After a client requests a new application or update, vendors must create a test environment, perform security reviews and create custom packages before the functionality can be pushed onto the firm’s desktop. The time-to-market cost is huge, and innovation is stifled.

In a 2018 report, Greenwich Associates found this outdated deployment process costs the industry at least $1.5 billion each year. Many who work in the space think that’s a conservative estimate.

So the rapid rate of innovation in our industry often fails at the last mile of deployment. Solving this problem is a big part of what we’re doing at OpenFin. By building on our platform, vendors can deploy, push updates and manage migration in minutes instead of months.

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