Bank Spend on Fixed Income RegTech Tops $20B

The cost of fixed income trading desk compliance has just breached a milestone.

Fixed-income dealers are spending as much as $20 billion a year on RegTech (regulatory technology) to help them comply with the raft of regulations covering their trading desks, according to a new report from Greenwich Associates.

That’s a lot of scratch.

Ninety-four percent of the 46 sell-side fixed-income traders participating in a recent study from the market consultancy said they are spending more time speaking with compliance. Compliance demands are keeping both traders and trading desk heads away from clients, which hurts the profitability of the desk and the level of service clients receive.

In a new report, “The Benefits of Trader Augmentation,” Greenwich reports how dealers in the U.S. and Europe are using technology to meet these new compliance requirements while ensuring these demands do not degrade client service. The report suggests an unlikely inflection point in this process: MiFID II.

“MiFID II is forcing dealers to upgrade their technology, which should bring not only new compliance checks, but also improved sales-trader tools,” said Kevin McPartland, Head of Greenwich Associates Market Structure and Technology Research. “A tight coupling of the two is the most efficient path forward, and MiFID II, with all of the headaches, is presenting an opportunity to move in a better direction technologically.”

Kevin McPartland

Kevin McPartland, Greenwich Associates

The new report analyzes the impact on trading desks from past regulations and MiFID II, examines how dealers are utilizing sales technology, transaction cost analysis and other forms of technology, and looks at the major third-party vendors banks are using for these systems.

Regarding the adoption of these new tools, the report presents another surprising finding: Older traders are getting more value than their younger peers from sales trading technology tools. “We expected that traders on the desk with less experience – the millennial generation – would be the most frequent users of the technology,” McPartland added. “We were surprised to learn that the opposite was true; those gaining the most value from sales trading tools are the most senior traders.”


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