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FX13: Make it Easy

November 15, 2013

Yesterday, Bloomberg hosted FX13, an all-day conference for foreign exchange investors. During my brief remarks, I summed up our company’s goal in three words: make it easy. In an age where information comes at us faster than ever, investors don’t need bigger buckets to contain the flood of data — they need better filters to organize and make sense of it all. That’s what Bloomberg seeks to provide. My remarks are below.

Two years ago, the New York Times ran a story titled “In the Euro Era, the Opening Bell is a 2:30 AM Alarm.” The article talks about the growing number of traders who are embracing the credo “carpe noctem” — giving up on any sense of normal working hours to monitor the global markets around the clock.

It talks about the spike in East Coast traders who log on to their terminals between those magic hours of midnight to 3 a.m. when trading in Asia winds down and Europe picks up.

It even profiles one lost soul who installed a six-screen Bloomberg terminal at the foot of his bed. He told the Times, “With the TV and all my monitors on, it gets a little bright in there. My wife is not thrilled about it.” I can confirm today that this individual is still a Bloomberg client. I can’t confirm whether he is still married.

Now obviously, the trend the Times reported in 2011 has only picked up steam. Where just a few years ago you were mainly tracking two currencies, today you might be tracking dozens. And even though I won’t ask for a show of hands, I have a bad feeling that some of you may be going straight from our cocktail hour to your office in time for the start of trading on the Hong Kong exchange.

It’s amazing to step back and think about how much those processes have changed since Mike Bloomberg started our company in 1982. Back then, bits of information were jealously guarded and trickled out through phone calls and whispered conversations. Journalists pored over paper copies of quarterly reports, and execution orders were written on ledgers.

These early days were the “age of access” — when winners and losers were defined not by who had the greatest skill or insight, but mostly by who knew what. And more times than not, the market-makers held the information — and the buy-side was left guessing.

Then information became democratized. The consumer internet put an incredible array of information at our fingertips, and companies like Bloomberg helped professionals make sense of it all.

Now that everyone had access to information, the game became all about speed. Phone orders gave way to electronic markets; participants started measuring time in milliseconds; and some markets saw the rise of high-frequency automated trading.

I’m not here to suggest that the age of speed is coming to an end. I’m pretty sure we’re not going back to paper ledgers. But I’m just as sure that the future won’t be decided by which computer can shave another billionth of a second off a trade execution.

We’re now in the age of integration — of data and markets.

We operate in a world where threats of Venezuelan oil sanctions benefit the Norwegian Krone…where growth in China drives copper demand and a stronger Chilean Peso…and where monetary policy in the U.S. and Europe lead to capital inflows in Brazil.

In this world, the “decoupling vs. recoupling” argument and the volatile “risk-on/risk-off” trading paradigm aren’t going anywhere — which means that investors need a broad view of what’s driving markets at any given time.

Now, this is a hugely daunting challenge in a world dominated by speed and complexity. You’d be amazed at how often clients request more monitors for their terminals — as if having 8 or 12 or 100 screens would somehow help contain the avalanche of data coming at them.

But the answer isn’t bigger buckets to contain the flood of data — it’s better filters to organize and make sense of it all. It’s about being smarter than ever before about how you balance the depth and breadth of your knowledge.

So how does Bloomberg fit into all of this? Our goal is actually pretty simple: we want to build tools that make it easy.

You’ve gotten to see some of these tools today.

For example, since you can’t possibly source and organize every news story that’s relevant to your workflow, we built Bloomberg First Word to put everything you need to know at a given moment on a single screen.

Since you need to reach people all over the world at a moment’s notice to get a deal done, we designed IB Dealing to give you instant chat-based access to negotiate trades with any Bloomberg client.

And when you’re ready to trade, we bring the market to you, with more than 300 financial institutions all seamlessly connected over our execution platform, FXGO.

There’s a lot more work ahead. So our plan for 2014 is to keep listening to you and building more tools like these that integrate your workflow and make your life easier.

Because at the end of the day, we want you to have a Bloomberg terminal…or two. We just don’t think they need to be installed at the foot of your bed.

Contributed by Dan Doctoroff, Chief Executive Officer and President of Bloomberg L.P.