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Bob McDowall

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Chasing the holy grail: the algorithmic arms race

Column Investment banks and major brokerage firms may or may not be leading the innovation in algorithms for securities trading purposes, but they take the lead in publicising their innovations in this field. With trashy names reminiscent of graphic comics such as Dagger, Nighthawk, Cobra, Razor and so on, they are rolling these …
Bob McDowall, 07 Jan 2007
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IT presence in the UK faces extinction as students shun the sector

This month has seen the UK's aspiring Prime Minister recycling his views in his Budget Report on the requirements and funding for enhancing the training opportunities and skills to compete globally as a prelude to announcing greater investment in higher education. Some people and organisations, “speaking on behalf of the UK IT …
Bob McDowall, 12 Dec 2006
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The real time reporting utopia?

The so-called big four global accounting firms, together with two of the major second tier firms, have recently proposed that the current historic reporting of corporate financial results, quarterly or half yearly, should be replaced by real time reporting. Moreover, they argue that financial reporting should be augmented by …
Bob McDowall, 20 Nov 2006
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S&P updates ratings method for exchanges and clearing houses

Exchanges and clearing houses have changed almost beyond recognition over the past 10 years. They have been transformed from private mutual, member types of organisations in many instances with monopoly powers and business franchises to public and, in many cases, listed organisations. The old membership category has for the …
Bob McDowall, 01 Nov 2006
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Financial regulators draft proposals on outsourcing

There is growing concern among some commentators at the impending growth of regulatory scrutiny of outsourcing in the securities industry in the USA and Europe through introduction of additional regulation governing outsourcing. It is important to put these impending regulatory changes in context. MiFID requires investment …
Bob McDowall, 25 Oct 2006
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Risk management that deals with the imperfect world

In comment and analysis on the energy market losses experienced by the hedge fund Aramanth, a number of market commentators have remarked that the losses occurred from what was termed "a ninth sigma" event — "an event with a probability so low that such events simply do not happen". Whether this was or was not the reason for …
Bob McDowall, 19 Oct 2006
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IM gains traction on Wall Street

Some months ago I wrote a feature Securities trading desks adopt IM. It appeared that there was some push for adoption of this medium for transmitting securities orders in the US markets. However, there were a number of technical and regulatory compliance issues to be addressed before IM for transmission of securities orders …
Bob McDowall, 16 Oct 2006
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Computer-based models to replace the investment advisor?

Analysis A number of recently published features and surveys evidence the continued growth in quantitative investment. Quantitative investment is based on the deployment of computer generated investment decisions. It is reputed to be growing at 20 per cent per year. Major conventional fund managers as well as hedge funds are …
Bob McDowall, 21 Aug 2006
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Net censorship 'morally unacceptable', report says

The UK Parliamentary Foreign Affairs Committee recently issused a report in which it stated that "search engines' agreement to block the access of computer users to certain information (in China) was 'morally unacceptable'". Moreover, it called on the UK government "to put pressure on China's political leaders to relax its …
Bob McDowall, 17 Aug 2006
globalisation

Moving capital markets towards their nirvana

In June 2006 IBM, through the IBM Institute for Value in conjunction with the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), published a research paper "The trader is dead; long love the trader". The purpose was to set out the perceived trends in the Capital Markets business over the next 10 years. The research paper encompassed the views …
Bob McDowall, 10 Aug 2006
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SWIFT: the challenges of being multi-national

Comment The recent disclosure in a US newspaper that, post 9/11, SWIFT responded to compulsory subpoenas from the Office of Foreign Assets Control of the United States Department of the Treasury by "providing limited sets of data" is embarrassing for both SWIFT and the US Government. This is, principally, because, although SWIFT …
Bob McDowall, 10 Jul 2006
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Industries lobby EU Commission to cut copyright fees

At the same time as the EU Commission has launched a consultation paper with proposals to reform current copyright levies, the IT, telecommunications, electronics and digital industry associations have launched the Copyright Levies Reform Alliance (CLRA), campaigning for urgent reform of copyright levies. Copyright levies …
Bob McDowall, 04 Jul 2006
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Securities trading desks adopt IM

Instant Messaging (IM) is becoming a presence on securities trading desks in the USA. And Pivot Solutions has developed IM Trader, an IM product for the trading desk. IM Trader enables customers to place securities orders for trading in a manner that complies with Securities and Exchange Commission rules by transforming instant …
Bob McDowall, 24 May 2006
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Reputational risk

Business reputation is established by gaining and retaining the confidence and trust of the stakeholders in the business: customers, suppliers and employees, as well as shareholders. Reputation is gained over time. Sometimes business reputations may be gained over a short period of time but, more frequently, over the longer …
Bob McDowall, 22 May 2006
Broken CD with wrench

Computer energy use under scrutiny

Well-honed phrases about cheaper and greater computing power have all but faded from the marketing, sales, and other promotional material of IT vendors and consultants to the sector. Rising energy costs over the past year, as well as concerns about the scale of availability of energy in the short-term, especially over the …
Bob McDowall, 27 Apr 2006
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China won't protect IP until it gets its own IT

Comment This comment from a recent edition of Fortune magazine probably summarises the basic proposition underlying progress of IP protection in China. How will China acquire its own IP? How long will this take? Since the early 1990s China has been an alluring consumer market. Initially products and, subsequently, services have been …
Bob McDowall, 22 Jun 2005
hands waving dollar bills in the air

Outsourcing UK public sector services - the moral hazards

Comment Recent estimates by Kable, an organisation which provides technology research and analysis on the UK government and public services sector, suggest that almost one fifth of public sector services (£60bn) could be delivered through outsourcing to private and voluntary bodies. Principle sectors targeted for this treatment appear …
Bob McDowall, 21 Apr 2005
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Linux and the job market

The principles of economics, as Computerworld reports, are finally affecting Linux. Linux is increasing its market share so rapidly that, in consequence, some companies find it difficult to secure the resources to handle Linux development and installation. Naturally, the contractor or salary costs rise. This may reduce the …
Bob McDowall, 06 Dec 2004
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The public sector's FOI Act challenge

The "deadline" for implementation of the UK Freedom of Information Act is January 2005. What does this mean? The public sector, widely defined to include educational organisations, Government agencies, "Quangos" and other extended tentacles of Government have to be in a position to respond to prescribed requests for information …
Bob McDowall, 26 Oct 2004

Digital storage and archiving = digital decay?

Commercial enterprises invariably store information and records, which may be required for a range on external demands, primarily legal and regulatory. The rationale is that huge quantities of data and records can be stored, retained on a more cost effective, efficient basis and accessed on a timely basis. There is a similar …
Bob McDowall, 22 Jul 2004
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Google's public-auction IPO: smart move?

One of the most unusual elements of the proposed Google IPO is the use of the public auction system via the Internet. Some view it as a laudable move to enable its vast number of individual or retail investors, though in fact they are confined to its subscriber base. In other words individuals (and institutions one must presume …
Bob McDowall, 05 May 2004