Take a look at the financial headlines on any given morning, and one fact becomes clear: We live in volatile times. Whether its the political sea change in the regulatory environment or industry disruption driven by new market innovations, it’s critical for financial professionals and investors understand how these developments will impact them. As any good trader knows, times of uncertainty have a tendency to open up new and exciting opportunities. That’s what makes the 2017 STANY Capital Markets Conference and Dinner particularly noteworthy.
The annual conference, held by The Security Traders Association of New York (STANY) is always a significant affair in the financial space, but as political upheaval and rapidly advancing tech continue to disrupt and reshape the financial landscape, this year’s event is perhaps met with greater anticipation than ever. To get a better idea of what this year’s conference brings, Equities.com interviewed Kimberly Unger, CEO and Executive Director of STANY, and Bill Karsh, Vice President of OTC Markets Group:
EQ: The 2017 STANY Capital Markets Conference and Dinner will emphasize the theme of innovation and disruption, as well as the implications of FinTech and the New Trump Administration on financial professionals. How will this year’s event prepare them for these (and other) giant shifts in the financial landscape?
Unger & Karsh: STANY as an organization has always been about representing and educating its members as well as legislators and regulators. The Board is made up of a cross section of Industry participants to establish an agenda. The conference is our way of highlighting current and future issues that will impact the trading community and other interested constituents. We think the subject matter from MIFID II to Crowdfunding , Reg A+ and new uses for the block chain are very pertinent to our community. In addition to the continued market structure discussion, the Retail and Exchange panels will discuss current and future issues in their respective spaces. The Washington update is always interesting; but this year, with a populist in the White House, it’s even more so.
Finally, we are about giving back, so let’s not lose sight of the fact that every year we identify a charity that we are passionate about. This year, it’s Taylor’s Gift. This charity is based on promoting organ donations and re-gifting life. I believe participants will learn about disrupters, fintech initiatives, current regulatory topics and what’s going on in Washington.
EQ: Some of the most prominent leaders of the industry are scheduled to speak and participate at this year’s conference. Among the notable names are Adena Friedman, CEO, Nasdaq; Blythe Masters, CEO, Digital Asset Holdings; Ron Suber, President, Prosper; and Equities.com’s CTO Michael MacDonald. Can you talk about what went into the decision-making process of selecting the topics and speakers when creating the panels?
Unger & Karsh: I think we open with lightning: Adena & Blythe, and we close with Thunder: Ron Suber. Then, during the day, we hear from rainmakers like Michael. In addition, for dessert we are giving a lifetime achievement award to Bob Pisani. The board has worked on the conference for almost a year. We begin our planning at the first meeting after the conference. We strive to be different and topical, and I think thanks to this wonderful cast of participants, we have accomplished our goal.
EQ: The conference starts off with the STANY President’s Breakfast session, with Friedman and Masters, hosted by STANY Women in Finance. The WIF initiative is a big focus for STA. What do you hope that attendees—both women and men—can take from this session to help foster a more diverse and accepting environment for the industry?
Unger & Karsh: The number one misnomer I believe is that Adena and Blythe are Women. Of course they are women, but they are Senior Executives first and foremost, who simply happen to be women. They were asked to speak for their personal accomplishments, regardless of their gender. To be clear, STANY will be honoring Adena with its 4th Annual Award for Outstanding Contribution to the Industry based solely on her professional accomplishments. My personal opinion is that the initiative is all about rewarding women because they are terrific at what they do, not because of what they represent.
EQ: On the regulatory front, the session on the “First 68 Days and Beyond” will look at President Trump’s impact on capital markets. Generally speaking, would you say the financial industry is optimistic about the prospects here?
Unger & Karsh: I think Dave Franasiak and his Organization William and Jensen are uniquely positioned to give us insight into what’s transpiring on Capitol Hill and in the Trump administration. They believe the potential reduction in regulation, increased interest rates, and a White House that appears to be more friendly toward financial services is making more people in our industry optimistic.
EQ: The pace of FinTech disruption on the institutional side has really accelerated. What kinds of transformations have you noticed, and which are you most excited about?
Unger & Karsh: The use of AI on the trading desk, T-Rowe working with Virtu and finally block chain on shortened settlement project in conjunction with reduced cost potentially of DVP / RVP transactions.
EQ: On the capital markets side, new rules to help early stage businesses like Reg A+ and equity crowdfunding are beginning to come into their own. What are your thoughts on the progress we’ve seen in this area of the market since Reg A+ went into effect?
Unger & Karsh: I believe the rules are still not clear. The issues with clearance and the regulators’ view of these Securities are not consistent. While I believe they are better today, we still need more help from the Regulators to open the process for SME’s (small and medium sized enterprises)
EQ: Passive investing has grown immensely in recent years, thanks to the rise of robo-advisors and the popularity of ETFs. How is this affecting traders and market professionals?
Unger & Karsh: I think, like everything else, my parents invested differently than I do. My kids will invest differently than I did for them. That said, there will always be a need for qualified professional to help guide people through the maze of myriad products. In the end, there will be a multilayered approach for savings and investing based on the horizon of the individuals involved.
EQ: Aside from what we’ve discussed, what else should attendees and STA members expect from this year’s conference?
Unger & Karsh: A very interactive approach, where we encourage all participants to listen, learn and react. Be a good citizen- give back when you can, mentor when you should, and always act in the highest standards of our Industry for the betterment of all.
The STANY Capital Markets Conference and Dinner takes place on March 30 from 7AM to 9PM at Three Sixty in New York, New York. For more info, check out the STANY site here.