Remarks as Prepared for SIFMA Ops 2019 – Ken Bentsen, SIFMA

Remarks as prepared for SIFMA’s 46th annual Operations Conference & Exhibition.

Good morning. It’s my pleasure to welcome you to SIFMA’s 46th Annual Operations Conference and Exhibition. For more than four decades, this event has been the mar­quee conference for industry operations, technology and regulatory leaders exploring the continued evolution of our U.S. capital markets.

The work done day in and day out by member firms through SIFMA’s Operations and Technology division is key to our advocacy efforts to promote a strong U.S. capital market system that works for issuers and investors.

I’d like to thank the Operations and Technology Committee and its chair, Joseph Guardino from Bank of America Merrill Lynch, as well as the many member company personnel who participate in SIFMA’s activities, for their invaluable leadership on key operations issues.

Likewise, I want to thank my colleagues for their hard work in putting this program together, and in particular Tom Price, who heads our operations, technology and BCP team and his team members: Tom Wagner, Ellen Greene, and Charles DeSimone, as well as the SIFMA conference team for their support of this event.

On behalf of all of us here at SIFMA, many thanks to all our esteemed speakers who make the program so robust.

I’d also like to thank our sponsors for their generous contributions, which make this event possible.

As we develop this conference, we look back at the changes over the last year, of course, but even more so we look forward to where the Ops business is headed.

You work in an area that’s undergone massive changes in recent years—advances in technology, the evolution of customer demands and the need to be ever-vigilant in addressing new risks and threats have changed the nature of what Ops professionals do each day and the skills they need to succeed.

This is no longer old school back office processing.  Ops professionals now leverage AI, blockchain, cloud computing, and digital applications—to name just a few—to be innovative and successful, and wear the hats of engineers, technology experts and financial professionals.

You have enormous amounts of data to organize, leverage and protect, and are at the leading edge of figuring out how to best continue to automate processes to realize efficiencies for your firms and your customers.

I think we can all agree that the pace of change shows no signs of slowing.

The programming over the next three days reflects the trajectory of change that’s ahead of us. You will see many sessions focused on data, implementation of artificial intelligence, where blockchain is going, how the opportunities offered by the cloud are being leveraged and how we are sifting through huge amounts of data to better connect with customers.  Risk management, data protection and cybersecurity—no longer standalone topics but rather a part of the fabric of what we do each day—will offer insights into how we protect our customers and our businesses.

With your input, we seem to have hit the mark—the 2019 Ops conference has the highest registered attendance since the late 90s when we were all focused on the impact of Y2K and the challenges we might face waking up on the first day of the new millennium.

Were it not for the advances that have been and continue to be made in industry and firm operations – from clearing and settlement to processing to electronic trading – it seems unlikely that the United States could have main­tained its comparative advantage over the past two decades.

As we stand here today, we are in the midst of an evolutionary process in terms of regulation, business practices and tech­nology. We are on the back end of the most significant regulatory overhaul since the 1930s, while in the midst of groundbreaking new technologies that will continue to transform the business and how we serve clients.

That’s why this event is so important. Investment in new technology and operational efficiencies addresses opportunities as well as risks, and drives innovation and growth. Industry operations are fundamental to resilient, efficient markets that maintain inves­tor confidence and drive economic growth.

I hope the next three days are extremely useful to you and offer you insights and knowledge you can take back to your firms next week and incorporate into what you do each day.

Turning to today, you have a strong cadre of keynote speakers this morning, including:

  • Jim Allen, Chairman and CEO of Hilliard Lyons and current SIFMA chair;
  • Cathy Bessant, Chief Operations and Technology Officer, Bank of America;
  • Bridget van Kralingen, Senior Vice President, Global Industries, Platforms and Blockchain, IBM;
  • Jeffrey Wecker, Chief Data Officer, Goldman Sachs; and
  • SEC Commissioner Robert Jackson.

I sincerely hope you enjoy this year’s Ops Conference – your 46th, an achievement for which I offer my congratulations.  Thank you for your support of SIFMA and please talk with us about how you can be involved in what we do.

It is now my pleasure to welcome Jim Allen to the stage. Jim joined Hilliard Lyons in 1981 and has served as Chairman and CEO since 2004. He is civically active in Louisville, where he is the current Board Chairman of the Jefferson County Public Education Foundation and the 2018 board chair of Greater Louisville, Inc., Louisville’s Chamber of Commerce. He also serves on the Advisory Board for the University of Louisville’s School of Business, the Board of Trustees of Bellarmine University, and the Dean’s Advisory Council for the Fisher College of Business at the Ohio State University. Jim holds a bachelor’s degree in economics from DePauw University and an MBA in finance from the Ohio State University. He is also a Chartered Financial Analyst®.

I’ve had the pleasure of working with Jim through SIFMA’s board of directors, and we’re lucky to have him as our current chair.

Please join me in welcoming Jim Allen.

Kenneth E. Bentsen, Jr. is president and CEO of SIFMA, the industry trade group representing securities firms, banks and asset management companies. He is also chairman of the Global Financial Markets Association (GFMA), of which SIFMA is the U.S. regional member.