We’re meeting here in the runup to Sibos. You attended the annual trade event for financial service providers in 2018 as the new CEO of SIX. What are your memories of the convention?
A year ago, the transformation at SIX was a big topic. So Sibos came at an opportune time toward the end of my first year in office. We had strategically realigned SIX and had launched the SIX Spirit program aimed at instilling our corporate culture in our employees. One naturally meets many old acquaintances at an international event. Everyone there asked me how I liked Switzerland and my new job, but also wanted to hear about the strategy and culture at SIX. It was the perfect moment to show what SIX is made of.
How did you reply?
I, of course, said that Switzerland was very beautiful and I liked my job. But, jokes aside, I mainly gave an account of my vision for SIX, describing how we would orchestrate the reshaping of Switzerland’s financial industry and actively promote digital transformation with innovative services. But what I intend to recount this year is far more interesting: I’ll be pointing out how far we’ve already come on this path. Because, believe me, neither my acquaintances nor our clients will allow me to palm off the same response as last year’s.
And, how far have you gotten?
The year 2019 has shown that we’re not just on track, but on the right track. We have already reached a number of milestones, with more to come by year-end. Let me give you just a couple of examples of how we, with our innovations, have enhanced our clients’ competitiveness this year and will further strengthen it going forward. The managed security services offered by our Security Operations Center are now up and running, giving small and mid-size companies in the financial sector access to highly sophisticated cybersecurity solutions that otherwise only larger companies can afford. Our threat intelligence platform currently has more than 20 users.
Our digital exchange SDX is proceeding on schedule. I’m delighted that at Sibos we’ll be holding presentations about SDX at our stand, where we will show a simulation of how fully integrated digital trading, settlement, and custody works. Our clients will also get to see how our Collateral Cockpit will revolutionize collateral management.
This year’s Sibos is being held in London. How important is the presence of SIX there?
London also is one of the 23 branch offices that SIX operates outside Switzerland. These offices are important, in part because that’s where we run our international financial information business. The series of milestones that I began to tick off earlier continues here, for example with our Sanctioned Securities Monitoring Service, which is proving very popular with our clients in the midst of the ongoing geopolitical turmoil. In general, we have repeatedly succeeded in creating customer value out of complex and confusing regulatory situations, as evidenced by our recently launched watchlist for securities connected with marijuana-related businesses.
While we’re on the topic of London, we can hardly get around talking about Brexit.
I’ll leave commenting on Brexit to the British. But as a Dutchman working in Zurich, I definitely have an opinion on relations between Switzerland and the EU, all the more so since the Swiss stock exchange has been center stage in recent months in the debate about the proposed institutional agreement with the EU. The EU put pressure on Swiss policymakers by announcing that it would not extend the recognized “equivalence” status of the Swiss stock exchange.
But let’s face it: The draft institutional agreement is not a bilateral treaty anymore, but rather has the potential to become much more than that due to its dynamic nature. I understand that many Swiss citizens see their sovereignty and direct democracy in danger. And initiatives like the platform for open banking from SIX demonstrate that Switzerland is capable of establishing reasonable standards on its own without regulatory compulsion by the EU, in this instance the PSD2 payment services directive.