Despite the snow storm that blanketed much of the east coast last week, Franklin Templeton successfully pulled off their second annual “Alpha Innovation Required” (AIR) summit in Fort Lauderdale, Florida where almost two dozen hand-picked trading and research technology vendors presented how their products or services could help buy-side investors generate alpha.
Purpose of AIR
The second annual AIR Event was organized by Franklin Templeton’s SVP, Director of America’s Trading, David Lewis who oversaw the vetting of hundreds of financial technology firms to identify twenty-one unique providers that presented their solutions during the two-day event.
The attendees of the conference included approximately 200 senior sell-side and buy-side heads of trading desks, technologists/CTOs, Directors of Research, COOs, strategists, and other industry executives. As the title of the event implied, the focus of these presentations was how these innovative companies could help institutional investors generate alpha from their investment process.
Like all successful industry conferences, the 2015 AIR Summit featured a few interesting and thought-provoking key-note speakers. The keynote speakers who presented included:
Dan Kaufman, Director of Information Innovation Office, DARPA. In this position Mr. Kaufman is responsible for identifying and creating promising new information technologies and developing DARPA programs to exploit these advances for the benefit of the DoD.
Bob Bigman & Whitney Kassel, The Arkin Group. Robert Bigman recently retired from Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), after serving a thirty year distinguished career. Recognized as a pioneer in the field of classified information protection, Mr. Bigman developed technical measures and procedures to manage the nation’s most sensitive secrets. Ms. Kassel joined The Arkin Group from the Office of the Secretary of Defense, where she specialized in Pakistan policy, Special Operations and Counterterrorism, and sensitive activities.
Neal Huntington, GM Pittsburgh Pirates. Neal Huntington was named Senior Vice President and General Manager of the Pittsburgh Pirates on September 25, 2007, thus becoming the 12th G.M. in the history of the club. In this role, he is responsible for the entire baseball operations department, which includes overseeing the Major League club and scouting and player development systems.
Of course, the true focus of the AIR Summit was the presentations made by the twenty-one hand-picked financial technology vendors (and the small group meetings that followed). Each of these vendors represented a few macro trends impacting the investment management industry. The trends highlighted at the AIR event included the use of “Big Data Analytics” to generate alpha; technology advancements in the trading and research process; “Machine Learning” strategies in investments; and behavioral finance. The vendors who presented included:
- Airex Market
- Blacklight from S3 Partners
- Brand Loyalties
- Cabot Research
- IBM Research
- Orbital Insight
- RAGE Frameworks
- Red Deer Systems
- SMART Suite
- TheySay Analytics
Click here for brief explanations about each of these presenting vendors.
In my opinion, the 2nd Annual AIR Summit was a big success. As was the case last year, the conference featured some entertaining and educational key-note speakers. I really enjoyed Neal Huntington’s discussion of transitioning a MLB team to the use of analytics as a part of their management and coaching process. In addition, the AIR summit highlighted some pretty cool new companies and products (only 1 of the 21 vendors presented at last year’s summit). Lastly, I thought that Franklin Templeton successfully positioned themselves as an industry thought leader by inviting unique vendors, their sell-side brokers, and a large number of their buy-side competitors to network, gain new insight, and discover potential new providers from their participation in this event.
As I concluded last year, I would recommend next year’s AIR Summit (or whenever they plan to do this again) to any professionals who make use of third-party fin-tech systems as a part of their investment or research process. The conference was very enlightening and, in my view, could be extremely profitable as attendees were introduced to a small group of innovative and little known vendors who could help buy-side firms enhance their investment returns from a wide variety of perspectives. From the vendors’ perspective, not only did they get to spend quality time with potential customers, but also had the opportunity to discuss potential business partnerships with other firms that served the investment management industry. In my opinion, it was a win-win for everyone.