ITA Spotlight: Trading Technologies
Friday, May 24, 2019
Posted by: Kaylin Berg
Rick Lane, Chairman & CEO, Trading Technologies @Trading_Tech
What does Trading Technologies do?
TT is a 25-year-old fintech company that develops professional trading software spanning futures, fixed income, options and crypto asset classes. In addition, we provide global infrastructure services and data solutions to the capital markets industry.
We build capital markets technology solutions for the world’s largest banks and proprietary trading firms. Our solutions include trading execution and order management, market data and analytics, and infrastructure services, across the biggest futures, options, and fixed income markets.
How did TT get started?
TT was a pioneer in electronic trading and was the first software platform to launch the EUREX futures exchange electronic trading offering in 1994.
We were founded in Frankfurt, Germany, in 1994 by Gary Kemp (an American), who, at the time, was working with the Eurex exchange on an early iteration of its technology. Electronic market access was nascent in those days, but Gary nevertheless recognized the need for an independent software vendor to build solutions connecting the trading community with these electronic marketplaces.
Why did you relocate from Germany to Chicago two decades ago, and do those reasons still hold true?
Germany was the perfect place to launch the business, since that was, at the time, the epicenter of electronic trading. However, I think our early leadership correctly realized that the biggest and most respected traders in the world were on the floors of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) and Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT), and that if they were going to start an e-trading movement, they would have to convince those traders there was a better way to trade. That was the reason TT came to Chicago, and yes, many of those top trading companies are still based here.
How has having your HQ in Chicago helped or held back your growth?
Having a Chicago-based HQ in our industry has certainly helped, but the reasons have changed over the last 25 years. In those early days, Chicago was the center of the universe as far as futures trading was concerned, and there was a vibrant and growing proprietary trading community concentrated within a several-block radius because of the CBOT and CME.
In many ways Chicago is still the epicenter of our industry, but general consolidation in the space, as well as the maturation and globalization of the industry, means that the benefits of being concentrated in Chicago eventually waned. Around the same time, however, Chicago was really beginning to grow a vibrant tech scene, which allowed us to find and attract world-class tech talent here in our own backyard much more easily than we could a decade previously.
How has your company culture evolved as TT has grown?
As we’ve reinvented ourselves from a technology perspective, we also had to take a hard look at our company culture and what we were doing to both attract and retain the industry’s best talent. Ensuring that our employees around the world would be not just happy about where they worked but proud of it was a big driver for changes we’ve made. Of course there are perks like snacks, game rooms, and even a 30-foot bar with craft beers on tap, but establishing things like transparency and accountability throughout the organization has made a bigger impact on our company culture.
What are a few of the coolest perks of the TT office?
Our Chicago office is known for having a rotating selection of eight craft beers on tap at a bar made from reclaimed wood (the wood actually comes from a 19th century Minnesota grain elevator, an homage to our industry). The bar serves as an IT helpdesk during the day, but more importantly, it’s the central point of our common area and game room where team members and guests from the industry often gather for events and meals.
Just upstairs from the bar, we have a large game room with multiple ping pong tables, arcade games, pinball games, shuffleboard, various game consoles, etc. This space doubles as an open gathering area where we can fit the entire Chicago office for all-hands meetings, industry meet-ups, and other events.
What do you think your customers say when asked about TT?
For years traders have relied on our software and services for their livelihood and businesses, so there is an important and close connection with TT. I believe our customers also see us as a reliable partner in support. And, most recently, clients have been telling us they appreciate our innovation -- thinking toward the future and planning ahead for what's next.
Over the past 25 years, what do you consider the biggest obstacle you’ve faced as an organization, and how did you overcome it?
Hands down, the biggest challenge we’ve faced has been the unrelenting pace of technological change in this industry. It’s why so few companies in our space make it to this milestone (25 years). I believe our willingness to reinvent ourselves -- both from a technology standpoint and a culture standpoint -- has been one of our greatest assets as the industry has evolved around us. It’s also what positions us well for whatever the next 25 years bring.
What are a few reasons your teammates give when asked about why they enjoy working at TT?
People decide to work at TT -- and decide to stay at TT -- because they enjoy solving hard problems. We owe a lot of our success over the years to our willingness to tackle the industry’s toughest problems, and I know firsthand that this is what many of my colleagues at TT enjoy most about what they do. We’re also incredibly flexible when it comes to where and when our employees work, and many employees enjoy the freedom that brings.
How have you been able to stay so innovative over the 25 years, and what’s next?
Any company is defined by its people, and I believe that our greatest asset over this quarter century has been our people. Our global team has shown tremendous resilience and grit in surviving an industry that has seen an unprecedented amount of change over this time period. The people of TT, along with their appetite to solve the problems that nobody else is willing to solve and willingness to embrace change where and when it’s necessary, are the reason we’ve remained so innovative over the years. Going forward, they will continue to be our greatest asset.
Happy 25th Anniversary, Trading Technologies!