Trader chat replaces email at Numis Securities
Traders, research teams and corporate broking teams all need to communicate, but as regulation imposes ever-stricter Chinese walls within banks and brokers it is getting more difficult. Investing in internal communication tools can make a big difference, according to Simon Bailey, director and head of IT and operations at UK investment banking and stockbroking firm Numis Securities.
“Over the last five or six years, teams have been pushed apart physically by regulation, but they still need to share a lot of information ‘right now’, immediately,” Bailey told Banking Technology. “Email is too slow. We have installed chat channels instead. Traders set up alerts, and anything relevant on a given topic will go into that chat channel, which will then pop up on the trader’s desk, in real time.”
Founded in 2000, Numis is an independent London-based firm known for its expertise in small and mid-cap stocks. The company decided to use a system built by tech firm MindLink Software, which specialises in business collaboration, to connect its 176 staff. The MindLink tools consist of a web client, a mobile module, and the firm’s MindLink for outlook, MindLink Email & Social Connectors and the MindLink API to connect to Numis’ internal systems.
Bailey said that traders typically have six or more screens in front of them at any given time, each full of constantly-changing information. Rather than searching for material manually, it is better for the traders to have information come to them, he said. Research teams can flag up urgent information, which is then fed into the chat channels, as well as the firm’s internal CRM system. Corporate brokers may listen in on the chat channels, of which there are many specially set up for different teams.
“The advantage is this is real time chat,” said Bailey. “Unlike more old-fashioned approaches such as having someone from research come onto the trading floor with a microphone and give the team an update, with this system people don’t have to be at their desk. We have a sales office in New York, they come in at 10.00 UK time and work the UK day, so they would have missed that morning update. But they can open the iPad and see all the information they need to get started. That’s very useful.”
While Numis previously had a system that was broadly similar to the MindLink chat offering, it wasn’t available on mobile devices or tablets and functioned as more of an “island” compared to the new system, which Bailey describes as far more “immersive”. The MindLink tool works on iPhone, iPad and Blackberry devices, and is due to be rolled out on Android in the near future.
At Numis, the project took around three months to implement, much of which consisted of checking with its users and deciding details such as what form of pop-up worked best for the traders. Once these details had been decided, the project went live over a weekend in a ‘big bang’ without any problems.
“The other important thing for us was checking we could meet all the regulatory requirements,” said Bailey. “The regulator expects us to keep all manner of communications and hold them on record for compliance purposes. This is one of the very few tools out there that meet the stringent persistent and searchable requirements we need.”
The firm is now exploring how to link its channels to Twitter, which is used by some of its research team.