Reflections on a Whirlwind Month of Fintech Conferences (#WATTBA)

May 16, 2018

Since the middle of April, I’ve been to New York for three conferences and one in Chicago: The CMT Annual Symposium, Stocktoberfest, The Chicago Trading Show, and the Benzinga Global Fintech Awards.

While the first was an annual gathering for some of the smartest and most influential minds in the technical analysis world, the latter three were heavily focused on the fintech space. And of course, at all four there was lots of talk of crypto, crypto, crypto. (#HODLGANG #HODLGANG #HODLGANG).

It seems everyone is also involved in selling data in some way. Perhaps it’s the fact that I’m representing a premier trading software platform for active Traders and Wealth Managers (Trade Ideas, LLC) that makes us a target, but 2 of every 3 people who introduced themselves to me for the first time wanted to sell me data. A big takeaway for me on this is — data is a commodity, everyone offers it, everyone has access to it, and you aren’t special if you have a LOT of it. The key differentiator going forward is going to be your ability to derive something unique, valuable, and immediately actionable to your customers. And that’s on us.

Also, there was a lot of discussion both in presentations and panels, but also on exhibit hall floors, about Artificial Intelligence and it’s impacts on trading, investing, portfolio management, and consumer engagement. The nice thing here is there seems to be a wide variety of applications being explored yet no real consensus of what the “killer app” or use case will be that drives AI front and center into the mainstream. Right now, I get the sense that people find the idea of AI interesting, understand it’s something they need to start paying attention to, but really have no idea how to take advantage of it. Good news: there are plenty of players starting to build some really cool stuff (Trade Ideas is at the top of the list for Traders) and the early builders in this space will have a huge headstart when the rest of the world finally has it’s “Aha!” moment and clamors for a piece of the action.

A common theme I kept hearing recounted is that whether we’re talking Big Data or Artificial Intelligence or Mobile Banking or Brokerage, all the builders in this space are focused on reducing friction, making signups or account creation easier and faster, and making the delivery of information cleaner, clearer, and simpler. This will be a huge net positive for everyone in this space whether you are a provider or a consumer of a product or service.

A final takeaway is that no matter how the finance industry changes, who the newest hottest players are, or what the key drivers of technological progress are, one thing that remains constant is the shared sense of mission by many of the builders of our financial futures. People are engaged. They are networking. They want to partner up. They want to offer help or advice. They want to cheer you on.

Optimism remains high and exciting new visions of the future are being dreamed up daily. I can only finish by saying: What a time to be alive (#WATTBA).

P.S. It was incredibly gratifying to receive so much positive feedback from people who visited the Trade Ideas exhibit tables at Stocktoberfest and Benzinga Global Fintech Awards shows where it seemed we were constantly giving product demos to anyone who walked up and wanted to chat (shout! to my partner Michael Nauss @bonpara for shouldering most of this load in NYC). And it was also great to meet a few new customers of the All Star Options subscription service I recently launched with JC Parets @allstarcharts. The well-wishes and excitement around this new offering has been above and beyond my most optimistic hopes. I’m humbled. On behalf of my teams at Trade Ideas and All Star Charts, Thank you!

~ @chicagosean