Saturday, December 27, 2008

Updates from the Front

It has been difficult for me to get the proper motivation to blog. These past few weeks have been like a punch to the gut of anyone who is working in the financial services industry. Over the past few weeks, we have seen friends, colleagues and relationships dissolve, as the capital markets sector has undergone a painful consolidation. And as managers, it has been especially painful to deliver bad news to some of the very hard workers who we have collaborated with over the past several years.

I am hopeful that in adversity comes new opportunities for my former colleagues. The capital markets sector is not the be-all and end-all in jobs, and there are plenty of opportunities out there for good technical people. As I have said before here ... Always Be Coding. Keep your technical skills sharp. Get out of your offices, read blogs, go to MeetUps, start to code that great new app.

I want to thank my team ... SW, HH, FW, JW, PJ, and JR ... for taking the wisps of smoke and turning them into an application which we hope will signal a new class of applications in my firm for capturing, cleaning, analyzing, and visualizing real-time data flows.

I also want to thank the vendors who have made this year successful for the CEP team. We have given Coral8 much deserved grief at times, but we are confident that with the new technical management, they will deliver some great things to us in 2009.

On a personal note, in addition to heading up the CEP team, I have just taken over the role of Chief Architect and Chief Strategist for Equities (a title that reads better than it is), and I have a new team reporting into me. I have taken over the role of my former boss, but you won't find any gala press releases that trumpet this appointment.

Does this mean that my company will turn into a 100% Microsoft shop, with every application tied into CEP? No, not really.

The title of Chief Architect means a lot of different things in a lot of different companies. In my company, it means dividing my time into interesting things (engaging new vendors and technologies, doing POC's, and trying to convince the business to come up with the budget to follow through on the more worthwhile POC's), and more mundane things (like doing roadmaps, pursuing system retirements, trying to consolidate various efforts, etc). It also means hobnobbing with my fellow wizards in the other divisions (Fixed Income, Munis, Transaction Services, Retail Banking) and trying to overcome the traditional silos to come up with consolidated efforts and cost savings in these difficult times. I dare say that the words "Process Re-engineering" and "Cost Savings" are a lot more important than "Revenue Building" in these times.

It also means that I need to take a sobering look at Microsoft technologies. One of the reasons I was hired into my company was to help the former Chief Architect push Microsoft technologies throughout my firm. However, I like to think that I will not be a shill for any company. Microsoft will have to prove themselves to be worthy alongside the reams of Java infrastructure that we employ. I would also like to think that I can use my new powers for good instead of evil, and that I will be able to push Microsoft to pay more attention to the capital markets sector.

Who would have thought that in the span of one year, Merrill, Wachovia, Bear, Lehman, and WAMU would be gone, and GS and Morgan Stanley would be turned into bank holding companies?

I have no idea what 2009 will bring. All of the news reports indicate that 2009 will be as rough as 2008. But we all need to stay focused so that, when we come out of the muck and mire in (hopefully) 2010, we can all hit the ground running.

©2008 Marc Adler - All Rights Reserved.
All opinions here are personal, and have no relation to my employer.


Rut the Nut said...

Hi Marc,
Hope the extra role goes well, and that the workplace improves for all of us.
Oh, and do agree that you should definitely remain agnostic in choice of technologies and use whatever fits best, whether that it is MS or any alternative.
With your architecture and strategic hat on, do you look at using any of the 'Enterprise Architecture' frameworks or approaches? We do some EA stuff with Zachman and TOGAF, which has its place.
All the best, Happy New Year and all that.

marc said...

Thanks John.

There is an Enterprise Architecture group that looks after frameworks. i will be concentrating mostly on trading technologies.

Happy New Year to you and yours.