Viewpoint – Reasons to be grateful

12 December 2023


The end of the year is always a time of reflection, gratitude, and hope. With all the dire headlines in the news, it certainly feels like a time when we need a little hope in our lives. Truthfully, it’s hard not to feel a bit overwhelmed by what’s happening in the world.  

That said, there are so many reasons to be thankful. I am personally thankful for representing this wonderful industry at such a critical time. So as the year comes to a close, here are just a few reasons I am grateful for being a part of this fantastic community. 

First and foremost, I am thankful for the amazing people that make up these markets. Every time I attend one of our industry conferences, like I recently did in Singapore for the FIA Asia Derivatives Conference, it’s like going to a family reunion. People are genuinely happy to see each other. Sure, our member firms compete vigorously with each other but there is respect and caring in our community that seems unique to our industry.  

A great example of this warmth: SGX’s Rama Pillai has agreed to be the 10th person and first Asia-based member to wear a kilt for our Futures for Kids charity gala in London this June. He has literally asked everybody he knows to donate to this cause and with great success. Get this—he has already raised more than £19,000. Our industry is filled with people like Rama who choose to give back and I am truly grateful. 

Another reason I love this industry is that it is deeply rooted in economics, math, and efficient market theory. In other words, this industry attracts nerds. I am a self-proclaimed nerd—after all, I publicly admit I play the trombone. But the fact that our industry is based on high finance and is difficult to explain is what attracted me to it. We are an industry of contrarians. We take the path less traveled, and we like it. Our markets may be hard to understand but once you are in the club, it’s a bond that unites us all. And I am grateful for this nerdiness.   

I’m also thankful that society, more than ever, needs risk management products like futures and other derivatives. Our industry is flirting with 100 billion contracts traded this year for the first time ever and has already surpassed last year’s record. That’s five years of record volumes in a row. Just to put this in context—our markets today trade more contracts in one month than our industry did in an entire year twenty years ago. I feel fortunate that our markets will continue to play a central role in the economy for years to come.  

Lastly, I am proud of the many accomplishments of our members this year in making our markets safer and more resilient. 2023 began with dark clouds over our markets. There was the inflation-driven rates-a-palooza with the central banks that threatened to put the economy into recession. There was the energy crisis in Europe that drove historic price swings. There was the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank, partially brought on by its decision to stop hedging interest rate risk to save money. And there was the Ion ransomware attack that disrupted the back-office functions of several clearing firms.  

Our industry took these challenges head-on. We adopted trade flow standards for allocations and give-ups so the markets could efficiently handle the higher-than-normal volumes. We formed a taskforce to learn from recent cyber-attacks and provided industry recommendations on how we better deal with the next crisis. We developed best practices for exchange volatility controls for our community so that markets continue to be orderly and discover prices during shocks.  

These collaborative efforts would not have been possible if our members hadn’t set aside their own self-interests and eagerly dedicated their time to solving broader industry problems. That’s a special group of people and I’m incredibly proud to be associated with all of you.  

Wishing you all a restful holiday season filled with family, gratitude, and hope!  

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