New CIO at the trading desk

FRAMINGHAM (10/03/2003) - Barclays Capital PLC, the 6-year-old investment banking division of London-based Barclays Bank PLC, competes with some very large and experienced old-time financiers for a chunk of the trillions of dollars in the worldwide market for fixed-income investments, such as government bonds. Nancy Gloor joined Barclays Capital as Chief Information Officer for the Americas last month to lead the development of electronic trading systems for that effort. She comes with 17 years' experience at Goldman Sachs Group Inc., where she most recently was managing director for fixed-income, commodities, currency and finance technology for all of Europe.

Gloor recently talked with Computerworld's Jean Consilvio about the investment banking business and her new role at Barclays.

Why did you join Barclays? We're a relatively new organization and have very aggressive goals to be \[at the] top of all of the markets we're in. For example, in our electronic trading market, we just started with TradeWeb [a multidealer platform] in March, and we're already leading the [industry rankings].

What do you hope to accomplish in the coming year? I follow the goals of the organization, which are to further globalize the firm. We need to move the robust technology platforms that we've been rolling out in Europe and the U.S. into the next phase in the U.S., add more products and turn our attention to Asia. The other thing we're focusing on is flawless execution, which is very important. We're a relatively small organization, so for us to be competitive, we have to do what we do very well.

What changes do you see for the platforms? In the U.S. last year, Barclays Capital opened its new North American headquarters in midtown Manhattan. The new trading floor standardized the infrastructure technology. We are now following that with standardized software in all regions, which will make it much easier for us to deploy new applications and put new product lines on those applications.

What challenges have you come up against working in fixed-income management? One of the challenges is that in the very commoditized, cash-type product, like in the government [bonds] area, margins have shrunk over the last few years. To be profitable, you have to really be smart about how much it costs to trade, how quickly we can price things, how much it costs to process everything through the back office. Those are things we need to be able to automate wisely because the cost of doing business has to come down for them to be profitable.

What advice would you give anyone in IT who wants to specialize in an industry, as you have during your career? Technology plays such a key and integral part in our business that you have to have a lot of context. You have to have deep knowledge of the business, and that's where you bring the value. It's not just your technical skill that's important, but it's your knowledge about a particular trading desk, product line or process, like risk or pricing. We have [IT] people sitting on the desks with the traders and the salespeople who understand intimately what they do every day, and they're the ones developing the software for them.

So business and technology work as one? When I was interviewing here, somebody said, 'I don't really see the difference between technology and business.' I don't either. They're one in the same. I don't know how you trade bonds without technology. You couldn't. It's not possible. The challenge for technologists is to be equally competent on both sides.

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