FIX NEXTGEN: THE FUTURE OF FIX?
FIX NextGen is an initiative designed to continue to build the community by bringing together members of our industry who may not have thought that participation in FIX is necessarily relevant to them. The NextGen initiative has been endorsed by the EMEA co-chairs, who along with a small steering group are working to hold a series of events throughout 2020 to reach as many of our FIX members as possible.FIX, or the Financial Information eXchange protocol, is often compared to the telephone; it just works and you never need to think about how it works. The FIX protocol is similar in a way. It underpins trading in capital markets globally. However, the FIX protocol was not the brainchild of a single person or firm, but of a small number of individuals and firms who grew the network and built the protocol into what we know it as today. However, a number of the active participants who were involved in forming the original community have now mostly risen up their ranks and are gradually moving into semi-retirement. The FIX Trading Community has achieved amazing things over the past 20 years. Its success is largely due to the volunteers who represent the whole breadth of the financial services industry, and who have always found ways to work together in order to find the best solution for the industry. We need to ensure this successful collaboration of leadership continues.
“As someone who has been involved in FIX since early in its inception it runs through my DNA – I’ve seen it grow from a very good idea to the protocol becoming an essential part of the fabric of global capital markets,” commented Maria Netley, FIX EMEA Secretariat and founder of FIX NextGen EMEA. “The NextGen initiative is helping to secure the future of the community and identify the future guardians of the protocol.”
Rebecca Healey, Co-chair of the EMEA Regional Committee, FIX Trading Community and Head of EMEA Market Structure & Strategy, Liquidnet, added: “The development of the FIX Protocol within the FIX Trading Community is a unique example of how an industry can come together over more than two decades to create a pragmatic, cost-effective solution for the entire industry. Its continued success will depend on finding the next generation of guardians and volunteers and we expect that the NextGen initiative will help to identify those individuals.”
We asked some of the NextGen Steering committee about what their driving force was to get involved with FIX.
Stuart Nicholls, Execution Services FIX Integration Product Manager, FIX NextGen says: “At the beginning of 2019, senior members of the FIX Trading Community led an initiative to recruit a new, next-generation of committee members. The ask was simple: after us, who will continue our great work in promoting, protecting and driving change within the protocol? We all agree that the FIX Trading Community is incredibly important to our industry, so it is vital that FIX stays current and relevant, and in order to be both of these things, the innovation of new products and the approach we take is key.”
Alex Ings, Global Execution Services Product Management and Market Structure, Credit Suisse noted: “I have been working with FIX for just over a year now and so I am relatively new to the community. Accessibility and joining FIX working groups can be daunting if you haven’t previously been involved and are facing people with many years of experience. I got involved with FIX NextGen to try and help and get more people engaged, especially the younger members of the community and those interested in the technical aspects of FIX”.
According to the NextGen members, what is FIX trying to achieve and what are the ambitions for FIX NextGen in 2020?
“FIX is something that most graduates, new entrants or industry changers start with no knowledge of. Getting thrown in at the deep end and learning on the job are the norm,” says Sakeena Lalljee, Sales & Business Development Manager at Aquis Exchange. “The group is planning to provide a new layer of support for those individuals, and for their companies, as well as opportunities for more experienced technologists and business users to get involved with FIX initiatives, workshops and events.”
In particular, NextGen is working to create more opportunities for non-client facing individuals as well. The FIX NextGen launch event, held at the “The Folly” in the City of London in October 2019, was the first step towards this, attended by close to 60 members of the FIX community. It gave the opportunity for people to hear from some of the earliest members of the FIX Trading Community about how far the industry and usage of FIX has come, and the importance of current and upcoming industry members in continuing to uphold and shape the FIX protocol.
FIX NextGen will be running workshops covering new topics every other month, including TCA/Best Execution, ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) investing, diversity and a mentor pilot scheme. These workshops, the first of which will be held in January 2020 will provide the opportunity for newer members to come together, actively engage and benefit from these educational sessions. One of the key drivers of FIX is to ensure members always come away from any of the FIX events or working groups feeling like they have learnt something new or have been able to really add to the debate. It is in this same vein that we hope NextGen members will always walk away from subsequent meetings with that same feeling.