Mifid heralds a rich IT future

The Markets in Financial Instruments...

The Markets in Financial Instruments Directive is now a reality. This EU legislation will be a radical force for business change in the financial markets, as well as a bearer of major technology challenges in terms of data storage, security, and transmission.

One aspect of Mifid is the "best execution" rule. By this, financial institutions must store, and be able to retrieve, information attesting to best execution in share transactions - trades that take place in milliseconds but need to be capable of reconstruction for many years to come.

That 85% of investment firms across Europe still have major work to do on their best-execution policies is of less import than the changes that Mifid will, in time, catalyse.

Mifid will bring more competition to stock exchanges. Project Turquoise, an ambitious scheme to create a trading platform to vie with Europe's established stock exchanges, is one enterprise that has sprung up to take advantage of the new rules. Boat, a trade reporting platform created by a group of nine investment banks, is another. And although many banks are holding back from making the required technology investments to enable Mifid compliance, a tipping point is bound to come, and the money will flow.

This confluence of rules designed to galvanise the European investment industry with technologies that are, in any case, transforming trading in financial markets is a harbinger of a future rich in possibility for IT professionals. Often apologetic about "being in IT, and not the business", IT leaders can look to these developments with awe and satisfaction: technology is both the hero and the future of business in this sphere. And it could be so in others.

The CIO we profile in this issue, Maggie Miller of Warner Music Group, earned her spurs in the City of the "big bang". She strongly advocates getting out of your comfort zone and immersing yourself in organisations undergoing dramatic change: having a go at risky IT-enabled change, rather than hanging back to nitpick.

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