Redefining the Institutional Desktop within Capital Markets

Entire organizations are driven on technology that no longer meets the expectations of end users. Particularly in the financial space. Financial institutions have notoriously struggled to keep pace with technology. Many, if not all, desktops that power Wall Street are programmed in what are now referred to as “legacy” languages: Java, .NET, and C++. This becomes increasingly problematic the longer they sit there. The degradation of user experience and functionality creates serious consequences for a product (and the bottom line), especially when compared to their modern counterparts.

The rise of modern UX and UI has fundamentally changed the way business leaders and organizations think about product development. As technology evolved over the years, so did consumer expectations. Engineers improved their methods and craft, better products were delivered, and consumers reaped the benefits of an interactive, intuitive UI that delivered a great UX. However, that same deliverable quickly conditioned and influenced users’ expectations, making it even harder for engineers to keep pace. Users want and expect a beautifully designed, modern, interactive experience on any device, anywhere.

In today’s world of hyper expectations, user experience must be the leading driver in determining product strategy. 

Web technologies—HTML5, CSS, and JavaScript to name a few—are what deliver the modern UX that users have come to expect. These technologies came and conquered. They’re responsible for the “mobile first” and cloud movements that transformed businesses around the world. Web technologies have had such a big impact on the bottom line that they are now a cornerstone of any great company or product strategy.

But the financial space is always a little tough. Developing tools for financial professionals isn’t the same as building a taxi service app, a chat platform, or a food delivery app. The needs of financial professionals—analysts and traders in particular—are far more complex and require technical sophistication and industry-specific intel.

With help from experts in the field, institutions began to deliver the experience modern users demanded. Web technologies played a huge role as devices proliferated and cross-platform technology became essential. But through all of this, there was one device and tool that was overlooked: the desktop trading terminal. The last mile of web technologies is bringing their inherent advantages to the institutional desktop trading station.

The desktop is king in the financial industry thanks to its sheer power, performance, and efficiency. Right now a proprietary terminal sits on the desk of 325K of the most influential decision-makers in finance. Close your eyes and imagine the trading floor full of paper tickets and runners. One of the first industry revolutions moved Wall Street from print to computers. And now, we’re in the midst of another great revolution as HTML5, CSS, and JavaScript are being applied to financial technology.

Power users in finance need access to a lot of data—and quickly. This explains the large investment in the desktop computer and 12+ monitor setup. But what if you could take all the data within those monitors and have each monitor’s contents talk to each other, fit on one screen, or stretch out across many screens depending on your preference? What if you could fill multiple areas on your screen with the data that mattered most to your own organization? And what would happen to your business if you could integrate your legacy and native applications into the same platform as your modern web technologies? AND they could all interoperate? This is the future of the desktop: one experience powered by many apps. Its smarter, better-looking, and more powerful. And it’s finally here.

Financial firms employ thousands of desktop apps for trading, market research, and collaboration. They can be modern or legacy apps. They can be licensed from thirdparty vendors or built in-house. They can be built with different technologies such as Java, .Net, Angular, or Flash. But no matter the situation, financial institutions are faced with a hodgepodge of disparate, splintered applications across the entire organization, and definitely on the user’s desktop. These apps might provide insight and power and individually be great, but they’re just a single app on a page, unaware of its surroundings.

Within the last five years, software frameworks called containers have given us the ability to have multiple types of applications work together on the desktop, regardless of language. The latest tech development is building advanced functionality on top of the container, because the container isn’t enough. When HTML5 and JavaScript are used on top of a container, they can leverage APIs, a microservice architecture, and modern functionality to bring users a new platform experience—an open terminal experience.

An open terminal experience is exactly what financial institutions need to solve the headaches associated with their outdated technology. It allows large organizations, steeped in legacy architecture, a chance to preserve the current apps that power their business while simultaneously building forward in HTML5. The open terminal accomplishes this by making it possible for organizations to embed their own native applications into a modern, interoperating platform that connects and syncs data. The final product is the functionality that end users want. And that’s been a long time coming for Wall Street’s darling: the desktop. Your choice of data and components. All working seamlessly together.

“The move to bring powerful web functionality and integrate disparate systems into a unified user experience is redefining the institutional trading terminal as we know it.” 

Individual windows can be easily connected with the touch of a button so that they communicate with one another and synchronize data. This allows for a federated approach, where components are loosely coupled, but integrated into a unified whole. With these new developments, organizations can, for the first time ever, reduce their dependence on the proprietary terminal and choose the data that is relevant to their organization. When data sources are interconnected, synchronized, and organized to best meet the end users’ needs… the entire workflow is made efficient.

At ChartIQ, we’ve been working with HTML5 for years to guide large financial institutions through the inevitable upgrade process. We built our open terminal platform, Finsemble, to help these same institutions deliver a compelling and efficient user experience on the desktop. Finsemble is a middle road between the powerful-but-rigid legacy environment and the dynamic-but-constrained browser environment. APIs allow window communication and syncing, and client-side integration is fast and easy. You can learn how to start revolutionizing your desktop trading terminal at chartiq.com 

With Finsemble, customized workspaces and workflows are quick to assemble for developers. And they are flexible, so the unique requirements of each and every organization are individually met. Embedding native applications into an HTML5 environment allows these large, legacy-driven orgs to finally deliver the best possible user experience.

About Dan Schleifer 

Dan Schleifer is a Co-founder of ChartIQ, a front-end software company that specializes in HTML5 functionality and APIs for capital markets clients. ChartIQ provides tools that make migrating and updating to modern interfaces easy for large financial institutions. Learn more at chartiq.com

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