Traditionally in autumn, the children are back in school and the adults are back at work. Those involved in financial services have their own fall tradition: The Security Traders Association’s annual market structure conference, now in its 89th year, bringing together senior executives from brokers, exchanges, buy-side firms, technology providers, government agencies and more to celebrate this to discuss key industry issues.
This year’s event will be held October 12-14 at the JW Mariott in Washington, DC, and for the hundreds of speakers and delegates looking to attend both in person and virtually, it’s safe to say that the rotating papers won . It’s not the only transformation in her mind.
“It’s hard to imagine a subset of our industry that hasn’t been impacted by significant or unexpected trends over the past several years, whether business, technology or regulatory,” said Kate McAllister, STA Chair. “As we reflected on the top topics of discussion for our members – from the deepening relationship between digital assets and traditional markets, to the increasing influence of retail investors, to the midterm elections taking place less than a month after our event – we realized that the current moment is a critical moment that could determine the future of many facets of our market structure. That quickly led us to the title of this year’s conference: The Inflection Point.”
Notable Fireside speakers to date include senior regulators (Hester Peirce, SEC; Robert Cook, FINRA), stock market leaders (Michael Blaugrund, NYSE; Ed Tilly, Cboe) and other senior executives (Douglas Cifu, Virtu; Dan Gallagher, Robinhood) in the industry. In addition to these one-on-one interviews, the program will include a variety of multi-speaker panels, each bringing their own perspective on the issues that will set the tone for the year to come and beyond.
Here’s a taste of what’s in store:
Digital assets take center stage
Digital assets are no longer a new topic in market structure circles, but due to increased adoption, market turmoil, and increasing regulatory scrutiny, they are more relevant than ever. At this year’s STA conference, Dmitri Galinov (24 Exchange), Brian Mulcahy (StoneX Digital), Craig Salm (Grayscale), Jamil Nazarali (EDX), Zach Dexter (FTX Derivatives) and Johann Kerbrat (Robinhood Crypto) will sit together to discuss the Key issues facing this emerging asset class, including how it will reflect and coexist with traditional markets. Our country’s capital will serve as a fitting backdrop for the conversation. In May, the SEC announced its plan to nearly double the size of its Crypto Assets and Cyber Unit to support its increasing focus on regulating digital assets — a commitment that Chairman Gary Gensler made in a recent statement to Wall Street Journal affirmed.
Panellists will also discuss some of the unique characteristics of digital assets (like decentralized finance), the ongoing migration from traditional to digital assets (both in terms of business strategies and individuals’ career paths), and more.
Listed options get ready for change
In the last two years or more, the rise of retail has been a case study in collective power. Individually, these individual investors represent a tiny fraction of the market, but together they have made their impact known, leading to a variety of unforeseen consequences, from meme stock surges to order flow payment verification, gamification, and more.
This dynamic was particularly pronounced in the options market, which is where many individual investors devote most of their focus. With options trading up 35% year over year in 2021 — and about a quarter of that volume coming from retail investors — regulators have turned their attention to the asset class with renewed vigour. At the STA conference, Anthony Denier (Webull), Stino Milito (DASH Financial Technologies) and Erik Swanson (Simplex Trading) will discuss this new regulatory environment as well as broader issues of market structure and the overall investor experience in the listed options market.
Innovations on the buy side are progressing
Amidst these shifting landscapes, the buy-side continues to drive innovation in our industry. Faced with increasing cost and technology pressures, these companies have embraced new and emerging avenues to gain competitive advantage, including outsourced trading, multi-asset strategies, ESG and more.
STA will provide a forum for representatives of some of the industry’s best known buy-side firms – Ashley Banfield (Fidelity Investments), Bojan Petrovich (JP Morgan Asset Management) and Tammy Wiggs (T. Rowe Price) – to discuss these trends and their business discuss implications and key innovations designed to smoothly navigate them.
promotion of the mission
STA’s mission is not only to educate its members, but also to create positive change in the industry and give back to the community. To that end, as with previous STA conferences, this year’s program will also include elements aimed at highlighting charitable causes or promoting diversity and equity within financial services.
The conference will host the 7th Annual STA Women in Finance Symposium, a limited-capacity session where attendees can gather to share ideas about advancing inclusion in the financial services space – and hear from women who are making the point the way. This year’s keynote speaker is Erin Gibbs (Main Street Asset Management). Finally, this year’s STA Charity of Choice is the Catch a Lift Fund, which helps war-injured veterans regain their mental and physical health through gym memberships, home equipment, personalized fitness and nutrition programs, and a peer support network. As in 2022, STA Catch a Lift will provide a platform to speak about the importance of these issues and encourage attendees to lend their support.
All this awaits you at this year’s STA Market Structure Conference. While the US market structure may be fraught with uncertainty, one thing is clear: providing a forum where the people shaping that system can share their views, answer questions, and promote new ideas will make for a better, better informed industry lead no matter where sits. To register for the 89th Annual STA Market Structure Conference, click here.