Exclusive: New Omgeo CEO Marianne Brown Cites Europe and Hedge Funds as Key Growth Drivers
On Nov. 1, Marianne Brown became the new president and CEO of Omgeo, a global provider of automated post-trade pre-settlement trade management services (jointly owned by The Depository Trust & Clearing Corporation and Thomson Financial, a unit of The Thomson Corporation).
Brown was most recently CEO of the Securities Industry Automation Corporation (SIAC), a wholly owned subsidiary of the New York Stock Exchange and the American Stock Exchange. At SIAC, she was responsible for the design, development, implementation and support of the exchanges' computer systems and communication networks. Before joining SIAC, Brown was with ADP Brokerage Services Group, a division of Automatic Data Processing, for 26 years.
On Nov. 22, WS&T Contributing Editor Anthony Guerra caught up with Brown, who replaced Adam Bryan, to chat about her plans for Omgeo's future.
WS&T: You were with SIAC when this job presented itself. Take me through the process of how you came to accept this challenge?
Brown: I wound up having an informal lunch with Sharon Rowlands, who is the president and CEO of Thomson Financial. We were talking about trends in the industry, in the marketplace, things like that and those conversations evolved over a period of time to talking specifically about the Omgeo opportunity. I have to tell you, I was very, very excited about it. And I have to tell you that the reason is because of what I felt I brought to the table.
Omgeo has a joint ownership structure between DTCC and Thomson Financial, so it is a clear commercial entity but has roots both in a commercial frame as well as an industry utility. Well, interestingly enough, my backgrounds include being at commercial business and then running a utility.
Probably much more importantly is the life point of Omgeo. We all lived through the 'shall we' or 'shall we not' in context of T+1. We listened through the 'whys' and 'why nots,' we listened through about 100 gizillion meetings on interoperability — were it to be Omgeo and GSTPA and other virtual matching utilities. I look back at that stage in Omgeo's life, I look back at what Adam Bryan has done, in terms of bringing together all the assets of Omgeo into the realization versus the vision of STP, all of that together proved to me to have very high appeal in terms of coming in to run Omgeo.
WS&T: Is this the biggest job you have ever taken on?
Brown: I would say it might be the funnest job. My frame at ADP was material. I ran the brokerage processing services business, which is a pretty good contributor to the brokerage services group. Then I ran SIAC, which, of course, does all the processing for the New York Stock Exchange and is winding down its relationship with the American Stock Exchange. I got to do a lot of fun stuff at SIAC too in terms of delivering toward the technology portion of the hybrid market solution.
This is certainly different. Far more of my career has been spent in trade and settlement processing as opposed to the execution side, which is what I got to be exposed to at SIAC. Omgeo, no question, is in a significant opportunistic phase of its life in terms of growth opportunities, and that certainly makes it quite fun.
WS&T: Tell me where you see the main potential for growth.
Brown: I think that Europe is a big area of growth opportunity for us. And, by the way, these are not necessarily in order in terms of the level of growth they will have for us, but Europe and also Asia.
Another area of growth is asset class diversification. We are servicing the hedge fund community. We have about 100 hedge funds that we process for today, and they are certainly leading the charge toward diversification in the context of asset classes. So fixed income, for example, we've seen a significant growth in our play in the fixed income marketplace. We have about a 45 percent increase year over year in allocations in fixed income. We are coming near the 2 million trade mark for 2006 allocations in fixed income.
WS&T: Do you anticipate bringing a change in focus in any areas?
Brown: It is definitely 'business as usual' here. Omgeo has done a terrific job at building momentum toward delivery of critical initiatives of which our customers are anxious to reap the benefits.
Having said that, I hope to complement the delivery of those urgent initiatives by using my skills as a very metric-focused leader; I'm a very, very efficient person. I'm delighted to report: holiday shopping, done, wrapped, sorted by family. By the way, anyone who knows me will chuckle when they read that because that is such a Marianne.
I'm about business cases, about show me the money, about where's the ROI, where's the empirical data to support this investment. Ok, now how are we going to hold ourselves accountable for that investment, and how are we going to do a look back and ensure that we not only focused our efforts in trying to spend our money in the right place, but then, in fact, do a look back and confirm that we did. The point is to make folks accountable for the investment decisions that we make. So those are the kinds of things that I hope to bring to Omgeo that are very much Marianne.
WS&T: Let's talk about delivering crucial initiatives. Can you enumerate some projects Omgeo is working on?
Brown: Sure. We've got a few things, such as our Omgeo Connect solution, which is an urgent solution for us and our clients. Omgeo Connect basically enables the aggregation and delivery of Omgeo solutions. With Omgeo as a solutions provider, it's not just in context of proprietary solutions, it's about aggregating solutions for our customers. So, we're working with channel providers and other third-party providers to give our customers end-to-end solutions. Connect is basically an access layer, and it enables customers to get to any of the solutions that they need by way of this access layer. That is very, very important to us, and we will continue to be aggressive toward the delivery of that solution to our customer base.
Another is CTM (Central Trade Manager). You look at how critical that is to the marketplace and how critical it is to same-day affirmation. So we've made significant progress on that, and we will continue very aggressively on that deliverable. (Omgeo stated that it has over 160 clients on CTM, at least 40 of which have been added in the past six to nine months.)
WS&T: You mentioned Europe as a growth area. What about the Pacific Rim, the Middle East or Africa?
Brown: I think that Europe is in the phase of life where it's more mature in terms of defining its infrastructure components. So, it's important for Omgeo to be right in that game and ensure we are part of the definition of that infrastructure by adding significant value there.
In Asia, my sense is that we are planting the seeds. We have recently announced a partnership with JASDEC (the Japanese central securities depository), which we are very delighted about from a depository-linkage perspective. We are trying to work with each marketplace consistent with where that marketplace is relative to STP (straight-through processing) or end-to-end solutions or post-trade processing.
Editor's Note: To read more of Marianne Brown's thoughts on future technology, market trends and Omgeo's strategy, read the full article in the upcoming January 2007 issue of Wall Street & Technology magazine.