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Equilend : EquiLend 10th Anniversary
www.equilend.com 07 Decades: What can you point to over the past ten years that demonstrates EquiLend’s growing importance to the industry? Laurence: By 2005, when you received an RFP, invariably it included the question: ‘Are you hooked up to EquiLend?’ Similarly, by then, hedge funds were much keener to know from their prime brokers if they were either clients or owners of the platform. It shows that we had become part of the market infrastructure. Paul: This became visible to me in early 2006, when I started to see EquiLend on the CV of new applicants to the firm; it had become a skill set that people wanted to demonstrate they had. Decades: How did you experience the crisis of 2008? Ben: It was a turning point for us because it provided a wake-up call to all securities lending participants to automate. A number of firms mandated our use because they needed guaranteed audit trails built around electronic messaging, especially when the shorting bans kicked in. Brian: But I want to stress that firms’ use of EquiLend is not about putting people out of work. The fact was that, during the crisis, banks lost money and they had to lay-off a lot of staff. When things stabilised, those same institutions needed to get back to where they were, with significantly fewer people; they saw automation as the way to achieve that. Ben: The point of all that time in the bunker was to build a platform that is well oiled and works regardless of what you put through it – that runs on its own and doesn’t require special care or handling. People relied on us through 2008 and we delivered; throughout the crisis, and since, we’ve continued to roll out new products. Laurence: Three years later, I think the industry now fully understands the value proposition that we provide: we’ve brought in more clients in 2011 than in any other year. We have helped businesses to change: the key benefits of efficiency, scalability and risk reduction have become more visible to the market, and there’s now a common view that if you want to be an active participant in this market, that includes being a client of EquiLend. Decades: How would you characterise the culture of the firm? Paul: The firm has remained small – the effective design of the software and hardware has helped us to grow while keeping a staff of about 40 people for the first nine years. As a management team, we’ve worked hard to keep good people; the average tenure of people here is between five and eight years. Ben: People come from a wide range of backgrounds; the nationalities represented here include Iran, Russia, India, China and France and beyond. We have a developer that came from Sony, a consultant whose prior experience was outside financial services and a key contributor who ran the concierge desk in a hotel. Paul: Our colleagues talk about the communal culture of EquiLend. We were conducting an exercise about the firm’s values the other day and a colleague said that when we hire new people, they integrate into the firm’s culture seamlessly; he appreciated the clear cultural identity that we have established. This culture extends beyond our employees to our clients and even the Boards of Directors. // 50 The current number of EquiLend employees By 2005, when you received an RFP, invariably it included the question: ‘Are you hooked up to EquiLend?’” Laurence Marshall the first ten years EL.indb 7 26/08/2011 09:53