ICAP’s new post-trade risk and information services (PTRI)
CEO, Jenny Knott, discusses the complicated Fin Tech
landscape and suggests how it can be untangled.
When ICAP appointed Jenny Knott as CEO for its post-trade risk and
information (PTRI) unit, Michael
Spencer, the group chief, described
her as “impressive and suitably experienced”. After a quick chat with
Knott, I would also like to add ‘great
at applying analogies to technical
conversations’ to her list of talents.
Discussing the potential and future of blockchain, Knott highlights
the complexities of the blockchain
landscape from where we stand
She explains that with firms all
creating their own blockchain architectures, we won’t be able to have
interoperability or comply with a
common set of standards. She highlights the way Amazon opened up
the cloud and made it user-friendly,
cheap and helped make all clouds
compatible. “Someone needs to do
that with blockchain,” Knott adds,
before suggesting that maybe an
ISDA for blockchain could work.
But it was the new PTRI chief’s
elephants, ants and spaghetti analogy
that we really enjoyed:
“Everybody knows the problems we
have today with the complex archi-
tecture. We all endure technology and
data architectures akin to a bowl of
spaghetti, and historically we have
tried to unpack it and separate the
“I credit my peers with having the
knowledge to know that technologies
are set to be transformative and what
the nirvana state is, but their problem
is how to get there.
“They are rightly focusing on the big
transformative elephant solutions and
they are excited about the elephant.
“The risk is they are aspire for tactical ‘quick wins’, but multiple start
up niche solutions to every single
problem faced by the industry is not
helping us transform.
“As with any elephants there are
armies of ants marching by, these are
the start-ups. All they are doing is
adding more spaghetti to the bowl.
“If you are considered, you will
work with bigger partners and build
something much more strategic and
interoperable. It would be beneficial
to take time working with the likes of
DTCC, LCH, the sell- and buy-side
and then what we build is going to be
“I want the ants to exist but to converge on standards. The only way is
to have defined standards. Otherwise
we are so desperate for a solution that
we are grasping at straws and will
probably do damage by rushing in.
“The challenge for us now is that if
you look at the cloud, Amazon are
really leading the way in cloud standards. They are incredibly forthright
“They opened up the cloud and made
it user-friendly and cheap and helped
make all clouds compatible, someone
needs to do that with blockchain.
Regulators are not going to want to
interfere so we need someone to bring
it all together.
“To highlight the complications the
industry faces right now, this is where
the elephants, ants and spaghetti
analogy comes into play.”
CEO for ICAP’s post-trade risk
and information (PTRI) unit