Featured Image

Digital Transformation: How Harnessing Desktop Interoperability Provides Efficiency to the Financial Services Industry

Data Science and Technology

By Mazy Dar  |  January 7, 2020

It’s no secret that today’s financial desktop is too cluttered for comfort. Ask any trader to list their frustrations with their firm’s technology infrastructure, and you’re sure to hear complaints about information overload or the need to manually re-key the same data into multiple applications.

And no wonder. To survive in today’s increasingly competitive capital markets, employees at banks and buy-side firms must have a laundry list of tools at their disposal: trading, trade analytics, research analytics, CRM, chat, and OMS/EMS to name a few. Accordingly, firms have made major investments in these capabilities, whether by building in-house platforms or enlisting a third-party vendor, meaning their desktops are now loaded with powerful functionalities.

The problem arises when traders need to quickly access and gain insight from these applications to make complex, real-time decisions. In an industry where every second counts, it is tremendously frustrating to scroll through endless lists and select the same information on multiple platforms—even in the best of cases it is a tedious process, and in the worst, it can create a material impact on a firm’s ability to make the trades they want.

The result is often an institution that is paying for all kinds of powerful applications but whose employees are not able to leverage them to their full extent. The insights they gain are offset by the sheer frustration of navigating these platforms. It’s a quintessential one step forward, two-steps-back scenario.

Wouldn’t it be nice if Wall Street could take a page from Silicon Valley when it comes to the financial desktop? After all, we don’t have these problems with our smartphones—instead, apps on iOS or Android communicate with each other and share information, (even if they were built by different developers) making for a seamless experience. For example, a user who plots a route on their Maps app might be prompted to book an Uber, or one who uses Airbnb to book lodging may find that the dates have synced automatically to their calendar. The smartphone workflow, if you call it that, is automated and users rarely need to think about how to get a piece of information from one app to another.

Now imagine if our phones worked like the financial desktop. Instead of a streamlined experience, we would have to do everything manually—no more calendar syncing, sharing photos from the camera roll on social media, or instant delivery of tickets to the wallet. Users would revolt. Why should financial services professionals settle for any less?

Thanks to innovations in desktop interoperability, they no longer have to. For both third-party developers and the banks and buy-side firms they serve, it is easier than ever to access the resources necessary to ensure automated workflows for the modern trader or analyst. Today there is a heightened awareness of the importance of this kind of digital transformation, which has led to the rise of new standards and working groups designed to drive the industry forward.


Perhaps the best example of this is The Financial Desktop Connectivity and Collaboration Consortium (FDC3), under the auspices of the Fintech Open Source Foundation (FINOS). FDC3 seeks to develop specific protocols and taxonomies to enable applications to communicate with each other, all without having defined inter-application workflows prior to being deployed.

The first version of the FDC3 standard, released in March, takes a three-pronged approach to ensure application interoperability. First, it establishes clear application programming interface (API) standards to create a consistent developer interface and standardize interfaces for reference implementations and between desktop agents. Next, it uses a standardized set of verbs that can be used to put together common cross-application workflows. Finally, FDC3 context data defines a standard for passing common identifiers and data between apps to create a seamless experience.

These standards drive significant efficiencies for all stakeholders—vendors, banks, and end users alike. For vendors, they extend the power of applications and unlock new capabilities; for example, a given app may not offer advanced analytics and visualization capabilities, but that might not matter if it allows the end user to do so in an FDC3-enabled companion app. For banks and buy-side firms, they significantly decrease the legwork needed to ensure third-party apps can work with internal systems and allow traders to be more productive, thereby saving money. Finally, there are the end users who gain a fully automated workflow and endure far fewer day-to-day frustrations in navigating their desktop.

These efficiencies put firms in a better position as they make sense of an increasingly fragmented financial desktop. There is already significant momentum around developing with interoperability in mind, but in the years to come, it will go from a forward-thinking differentiator to a bare necessity for succeeding in this industry.

OpenFin FactSet Video CTA

Mazy Dar

CEO, OpenFin

Mazy is CEO of OpenFin. Prior to OpenFin, he led credit derivative strategy at the Intercontinental Exchange and served on ICE’s executive committee. Before ICE, Mazy was Chief Strategy Officer of Creditex which was backed by JPMorgan, Deutsche Bank and TA Associates and acquired by ICE in 2008. Mazy started his career at UBS as a software programmer. He earned a degree in Computer Science and French Literature from Cornell University.


The information contained in this article is not investment advice. FactSet does not endorse or recommend any investments and assumes no liability for any consequence relating directly or indirectly to any action or inaction taken based on the information contained in this article.