April 14, 2006

Messaging standards took a step forward as Fischer Francis Trees & Watts (FFTW), a New York-based institutional fixed-income asset manager, has become the first firm to use the three-year-old FIX version 4.4 in a live environment. FFTW has connected to Omgeo's Central Trade Manager (CTM) platform with a FIX 4.4-enabled interface.

"We had never fully automated the matching, and Omgeo had never done a link to CTM via FIX," says Michael Wyne, managing director with FFTW. "So it was a great opportunity for us both to do something we hadn't done before."

The FIX Protocol Organization, or FIX Protocol Limited (FPL), meanwhile, is happy simply to see its functionality being used, as adoption of version 4.4 of the protocol has lagged, notes Kevin Houstoun, global transaction messaging consultant to HSBC Investment Bank and cochair of the FIX Global Technical Committee. One reason FIX 4.4 has not seen rapid adoption, according to industry observers, is because of the industry's recent focus on increasing efficiency specifically in equity trading, for which earlier versions of the protocol are sufficient.

Still, Houstoun points out that the slow adoption of version 4.4 is not due to technical issues with the protocol. The fact that Omgeo and FFTW were able to create this interface without additional developments from the FIX organization is validation that the requisite messages and data elements are all there, he asserts. "We support both the bilateral and central matching paradigms, so FIX really is business-model-neutral in this space," he says.

For Omgeo, the initiative hits a lot of its strategic objectives around developing fixed-income capabilities within its systems, and using standards to provide openness and flexibility for Omgeo's customers, according to John Burchenal, managing director, asset class expansion strategy with Boston-based Omgeo. And because the interface is extensible, Omgeo can leverage the development work undertaken to bring on other customers, he adds. "We already have two or three firms that are starting the development into CTM using FIX 4.4," Burchenal says. "I expect there will be additional interest from those firms that are FIX 4.4-capable, or FIX-capable in any way, that will look to us to integrate to CTM. So I think this opens up a whole new round of customers into CTM directly."