Shanny Basar talks to Linda Middleditch, chief product officer at Itiviti, about the changes she has made and her strategic vision going forward.
A careers quiz at school advised Linda Middleditch to become an accountant or a refuse collector but she followed a different path and is now chief product officer at Itiviti, a technology provider to the capital markets industry.
Middleditch joined Itiviti last year from Bloomberg, where she had been global head of Sell-Side Execution and Order Management Solutions (SSEOMS product management. Previously she had senior product development positions in banks including Citi and Morgan Stanley. Her responsibilities at Itiviti include defining the product department’s vision and overseeing every element of the product strategy and execution, including design, development and marketing. )
Since joining Itiviti last year Middleditch has restructured and rebuilt the product team. She said: “I inherited a strong team with deep vendor experience and we have added market expertise in areas such as Delta One, market structure and derivatives so we have the combination of these two strengths.”
Middleditch was also hired to execute Itiviti’s strategy of providing a migration path to the firm’s multi-asset order management system for clients using Bloomberg’s SSEOMS, which will be discontinued in April next year.
“We have had phenomenal demand for the migration from Bloomberg SSEOMS but also from Fidessa clients and Tier 1 firms moving away from in-house platforms,” she said. “Banks are questioning their technology strategy and looking for outsourcing opportunities to differentiate themselves.”
Itiviti sees a continued growth opportunity for its cross-asset trading and automation platform and is working on projects for foreign exchange and fixed income, as well as meeting the increase in institutional demand for digital assets.
“We see this space growing over the next few years and we want to be at the forefront of providing technology solutions to help our clients interact with digital assets,” added Middleditch.
She continued that Itiviti’s core strengths are innovation and automation in trading technology and a key part of the firm’s strategy is to continue to identify and grow strategic partnerships. Itiviti hired Bobby Rahman as the new head of strategic partnerships last year and Middleditch said the firm is making strong headway in attracting innovative fintech partners.
“The partnership with NYFIX Matching is a really good example of the strength of our partnerships as it is a high growth business providing a great alternative to Omgeo for trade matching,” she added. “Through our long-term partnership with Alpha Omega we bring together a combined deep knowledge for cross asset trade matching solutions.”
In 2018 Itiviti merged with Ullink, a provider of multi-asset trading technology and infrastructure for financial services which included NYFIX, a trading community based on FIX , the messaging standard for the financial industry.
The need to continue to automate workflows has been highlighted by the Covid-19 pandemic forcing staff to work from home.
“Remote working has raised issues including how to meet surveillance requirements imposed by regulators for trading activities,” said Middleditch. “The importance of screen real estate has also been highlighted and the next challenge for trading platforms will be how to present their data in a more efficient manner more suited to less screen space.”
After graduating from university, Middleditch joined the graduate program at UBS where she rotated through a number of roles.
“This was a phenomenal grounding for my career as I had experience in many asset classes and saw things from all perspectives,” she added.
Middleditch joined Bloomberg in 2015 after working for several banks as she could see that banks would increasingly need to outsource their technology. “In addition, I could see from vendor pitches that they lacked market expertise which I felt I could add,” she said.
Middleditch said she did not see gender bias early in her career, but noticed that she was often the only woman in the room as she became more senior.
“I do remember a bias on my return to work after a career break to look after the children where one firm described my break as ‘time on the beach’ and offered a reduction in my salary level,” she added. “Needless to say I didn’t take the job.”
She said that returners can have a lack of confidence but a career break can teach many skills and the industry needs more women.
“I have noticed that women are less willing to back themselves,” Middleditch added. “I have been lucky to have good mentors who pushed me out of my comfort zone and into applying for roles. In addition, women have not always helped each other as much as they should.”
Middleditch continued that diversity at work also needs to include cognitive diversity.
“Teams benefit when members think differently,” she said. “This can lead to conflict due to different styles but it is healthy conflict that should lead to a well-rounded solution.”
In order to attract more women into fintech, Middleditch believes girls need to captured much earlier so that the industry looks interesting.
“I have two daughters and the eldest had computer science homework that is really uninspiring,” she said. More should be done to make technology more interesting and provide role models to girls in school.
Her advice to women entering finance or technology is that they should believe in themselves and force themselves out of their comfort zone. Middleditch said: “Women have a tendency to be conservative even though they are more than capable and so don’t always put themselves forward for opportunities.”