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UBS Trading Floor Driven By Proprietary Technology

About 80 percent of the trading technology used at the firm is internally developed.

Most of the technology UBS uses on its trading floor has been developed internally. Will Sterling, head of global direct execution, says a shift has taken place over the past five years, and now the trading technology used at the firm is about 80 percent internally developed.

UBS also has moved to standardize its technology, which makes the large trading floor environment ideal for UBS to grow its business. "Our desks have changed dramatically over the past few years," says Sterling. "Before, there was a different system for almost every part of the business. Now we've significantly consolidated that with a bias toward bringing a lot of the functionality in-house."

Larry Leibowitz, managing director and COO, Americas equities, for UBS Investment Bank, adds that this makes any reconfiguration of the trading floor much easier, particularly as groups evolve to cover clients across products as opposed to a single product. "As we move people around the floor, it's relatively easy and we don't have to move the physical equipment," he says. "Our PINpoint [desktop trading system], for example, is not only for client DMA access, but for our sales traders as well."

UBS currently has IPC turrets installed on the trading floor but is in the process of upgrading the existing turret technology. "The turret upgrade will be a major improvement and will make the whole process work better," says Leibowitz. He declines to specify at which technologies UBS is looking or when a decision will be made.

As for screens, UBS tries to avoid multiple layers that could potentially block communication. Sterling says most traders have between two and seven screens -- with an average of four or five, depending on the product area -- arranged in semicircles. He adds that there is a general trend toward cutting back on the number of screens as more information is integrated into a smaller number of applications for traders. "The number of different applications that a trader needs is slowly going down over time," Sterling notes.


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