The 2015 Tech 50: Racers to the Edge

July 27, 2015 Jeffrey Kutler

The global financial technology elite sets itself apart by understanding the strategic and societal implications of high-tech advances and pushing innovation at Silicon Valley–like speed.

Fintech Leader Institutional Investor

Grounded as it is in information and money — and information about money — financial services is, was and always will be a technology business. “Good information received in a timely fashion” defined sound banking, the late Citibank chairman Walter Wriston said more than 30 years ago.

But money, banking and capital markets have come a long way from what they were in Wriston’s time, or even a year ago, because technology is advancing so quickly and changing industry and society as it goes.

That is the day-to-day reality for the Tech 50, the visionaries and innovators on Institutional Investor’s annual ranking of financial technology leaders. What sets these executives apart goes beyond their considerable understanding of software applications and system performance as components of corporate strategy. These leaders think big about the global or macro implications of technology-­driven change — from cloud computing and machine learning to emerging sensations like the Apple Watch, cryptocurrencies and the Internet of Things. They relate such developments to their organizations’ and customers’ on-the-ground challenges and opportunities; set budget, investment and R&D priorities; and come up with solutions, to use the technological term of art.

And they put a premium on speed and agility. “It’s all about speed to innovate,” says Robert Alexander (No. 24), chief information officer of Capital One Financial Corp., which last year bought a leading user-­experience design company to accelerate web and mobile app development.

Intercontinental Exchange chairman and CEO Jeffrey Sprecher, repeating in the No. 1 position, brought his company from nowhere to the top of the global exchange world in part because, he says, “technology enabled us to scale quickly.” It also can fail. ICE’s three-and-a-half-hour outage on July 8 was only the latest to affect a major market platform — and demonstrate the importance of two other differentiating qualities: resiliency and recovery.

Catherine Bessant (No. 2), global technology and operations executive at Bank of America Corp., frets that the technology world at large is “moving at the speed of the consumer, not the speed of the enterprise.” The answer? “The best and brightest talent.” Bessant believes that “in conjunction with advanced-state thinking, financial services is magnetic for tech people.” But that means competing against Apple, Google and other name brands. For Bloomberg, one of the biggest and best-regarded development shops in finance, “ability to find talent is the only constraint” to hiring more technologists, says global head of R&D Vlad Kliatchko(No. 6). Citigroup chief innovation officer Deborah Hopkins (No. 8) calls the speed of change “exponential” and “almost violent,” and the necessary strategic response akin to a “lean start-up.” She views her organization’s “200 years of know-how” not as a liability but as something to be leveraged as new and “democratized” business models like the smart-phone economy and the blockchain present new opportunities.

The Tech 50 ranking was compiled by Institutional Investor editors and staff, with nominations and input from industry participants and experts. Four primary sets of attributes were evaluated: achievements and contributions over the course of a career; scope and complexity of responsibilities; influence and leadership inside and outside the organization; and pure technological innovation.

Of the 50 entries, 36 return from last year. The returnees’ 2014 ranks are shown, and the rest are designated “PNR” (previously not ranked).

The Tech 50 was compiled under the direction of Senior Contributing EditorJeffrey Kutler. Individual profiles were written by Kutler; Asia Bureau Chief Allen T. Cheng; Editorial Research Assistant Jess Delaney; Senior WritersFrances Denmark, Julie Segal and Aaron Timms; Associate Editor Kaitlin Ugolik; International Editor Tom Buerkle; and Editor Michael Peltz. •

1. Jeffrey Sprecher - Intercontinental Exchange

2. Catherine Bessant - Bank of America Corp.

3. Phupinder Gill - CME Group

4. Lance Uggla - Markit

5. Robert Goldstein - BlackRock

6. Shawn Edwards & Vlad Kliatchko - Bloomberg

7. R. Martin Chavez - Goldman Sachs Group

8. Deborah Hopkins - Citi Ventures

9. Stephen Neff - Fidelity Investments

10. Adena Friedman - Nasdaq OMX Group

11. David Craig - Thomson Reuters

12. Daniel Coleman - KCG Holdings

13. Michael Spencer - ICAP

14. Michael Bodson - Depository Trust & Clearing Corp.

15. Charles Li - Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing

16. Chris Concannon - BATS Global Markets

17. Christopher Perretta - State Street Corp.

18. Antoine Shagoury - London Stock Exchange Group

19. Kevin Rhein - Wells Fargo & Co.

20. Neil Katz - D.E. Shaw & Co.

21. Lee Olesky - Tradeweb Markets

22. Richard Mcvey - MarketAxess Holdings

23. Seth Merrin - Liquidnet Holdings

24. Robert Alexander - Capital One Financial Corp.

25. Frank Bisignano - First Data Corp.

26. John Marcante - Vanguard Group

27. Joseph Squeri - Citadel

28. Lou Eccleston - TMX Group

29. Claude Honegger - Credit Suisse

30. Chris Corrado - MSCI

31. David Gledhill - DBS Bank

32. John Bates - Software Ag

33. Michael Cooper - BT Radianz

34. Gary Scholten - Principal Financial Group

35. Sunil Hirani - TrueEX Group

36. Hauke Stars - Deutsche Börse

37. Brian Conlon - First Derivatives

38. Jim Minnick - Evestment

39. Lars Seier Christensen & Kim Fournais - Saxo Bank

40. Tyler Kim - MaplesFS

41. Jim Mcguire - Charles Schwab Corp.

42. Steven O'hanlon - Numerix

43. Sebastián Ceria - Axioma

44. Yasuki Okai - NRI Holdings America

45. Stephane Dubois - Xignite

46. Mazy Dar - OpenFin

47. Brian Sentence - Xenomorph Software

48. Mas Nakachi - OpenGamma

49. John Lehner - BNY Mellon Technology Solutions Group

50. Jock Percy - Perseus

Source: Institutional Investor

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