More machine than man

As if seven screens weren’t enough: Now Wall St traders will be wearing Google Glass

August 12, 2013
August 12, 2013
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Google Glass buysidefx finance
Enamored of Google Glass.BuysideFX

Google Glass isn’t just for techies anymore. Today, financial services firm Fidelity announced that it has launched a market monitoring app for the wearable phone-computer hybrids.

But why? Do traders really need yet another gadget? Or are they just hypnotized by the hype?

If the team at Boston-based broker-dealer BuysideFX is any indication, then Google Glass could serve an important purpose. The firm was able to get its hands on a pair of the space-age glasses, after bugging angel investor Google Ventures for a pair. Its employees spent a week in July testing them out during the workday.

“All of trading, whether on the sell side on Wall Street or on the buy side, has been some combination of screens and voice,” Buyside FX CEO Ty Danco explained in a phone interview. Essentially, Google Glass meets lots of needs at the same time.

With a simple voice command, traders could get answers to questions like, “What’s the bid on this stock?” or “What’s the yield on five-year Treasuries right now?”–questions that would usually take hunting around a computer screen.

Even more importantly, Danco wrote in a blog post published on the BuysideFX site:

With Glass, we can get a glimpse at the future. What’s coming up next? What decisions that are three hours out should I start worrying about now, and what information can I access to help me better prepare for these decisions? Glass already does this via Google Now with Google Calendars, traffic updates, etc. This kind of information delivery structure is really pertinent for traders, particularly in seeing ‘distance to execution’ type of order monitoring.

Moreover, the hardware’s ability to record video and connect wearers via phone could offer myriad possibilities for compliance (i.e., recording transactions and conversations) and training.

“You could record everything, I mean everything, with Glass, from the trader’s birds’ eye view,” writes BuysideFX co-founder Brian Costin. “Traders can be totally monitored on video for the whole day, and every event time-stamped.”

But the BuysideFX team didn’t see Glass as a game-changer, but rather part of a larger trend in finance. “There’s too much information. I think the thing with Google Glass is that it gives you only the information you need now,” explained Danco. “The trend is for expert systems to become more user friendly…[and] just because [Google Glass] is made for the populace doesn’t mean it’s not an expert system.”

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