In the event of a disruption, organizations can get traders back to work quickly by using infrastructure such as dedicated alternative trading facilities or by having a distributed architecture that enables traders to move among operational sites in a "hot desk" fashion. But, in order to be able to work effectively while away from the trading floor, traders need more than just e-mail access and teleconferences -- they need access to news, market data, trading applications, communication channels and the functionality they are used to on their turrets. So true remote access to the organization's trading functionality from any location must also be considered.
Traditional voice-trading floor systems typically operate in a site-centric manner, with equipment installed in expensive real estate, which makes it difficult to drive down costs, improve flexibility and implement the most cost-effective infrastructure for business continuity requirements. But voice trading environments now can be freed from the constraints of outdated technology, allowing them to operate more efficiently and flexibly in response to market conditions.
Building a Virtual Trading Environment
One of the best ways to achieve this is to implement technology that enables virtual trading -- traders and sales staff can work and communicate with counterparties and experts from wherever they are. Productivity is improved as traders are capable of working away from the trading floor -- during normal working hours, out of hours and in disaster recovery situations -- using technology that provides them with the information usually only available on their turret. Traders can access this information globally from the Web, IP phones and wireless devices, such as a cell phone or BlackBerry.
It is not normal practice in highly regulated trading environments to offer traders off-floor access, mainly because of potential managerial and compliance implications. However, in less-regulated trading environments, such as hedge funds, traders are more likely to be able to cover out-of-hours markets from home. But all organizations can benefit from such flexibility in extreme circumstances.
This kind of virtual trading technology also can be used instead of regular turrets and networks in an alternative trading facility in order to bring costs down in circumstances where the main trading floor is not accessible for whatever reason. Additionally, in an event of sustained denied access to a central trading floor, global counterpart teams can use the technology to cover out-of-geography clients (e.g., a U.K. team could cover U.S. clients).
By using a virtual trading infrastructure, firms also can move quickly into new geographic areas without the usual burden of physical equipment setup. The move away from the site-centric approach would enable running additional branches off of the central hub. This central hub model also is beneficial from a compliance perspective as recordings and archives can be consolidated into one secure area, instead of duplicating the process in multiple branches.
Private branch exchange (PBX) telephone users, who historically have not had access to the lines on the turret systems (where all key client and counterparty communication takes place), also can benefit from virtual trading technology. Since it incorporates turret-like functionality on other devices, organizations also can provide cost-effective, on-site access to those for whom it's difficult to justify the expense of a full turret, but who still need to share/field calls with turret users.
This functionality can prove useful for improving communication among traders, sales people, and their management and support functions. For example, support staff can answer incoming calls on their managers' trading turrets when traders are away from their desks, be directly involved in client contact alongside the traders or place calls on behalf of their managers. Furthermore, teamwork within and among departments now can be achieved and leveraged more easily when teams are on different telephone systems. Managers in offices off the trading floor also can monitor the status of their teams' private wires and conference in as necessary.