Back to the future

Jill Considine, former CEO of DTCC and now board member of LCH.Clearnet, is helping to write the next chapter of financial market infrastructure history
By Editorial
Jill Considine

Jill Considine, former CEO of DTCC and now board member of LCH.Clearnet, is helping to write the next chapter of financial market infrastructure history

If financial market infrastructure is the future, no one is less surprised than Jill Considine.

“The critical role that infrastructure organizations play to protect the safety and soundness of the financial system has never been more prominent,” says the former Chairman and CEO of the Depository Trust & Clearing and recently appointed board member of LCH.Clearnet Group.”

“Infrastructure came to the fore and really proved its value during the financial crisis. For example, both DTCC and LCH.Clearnet seamlessly handled the unwinding of Lehman, which brought some calm to the market,” she continues. “It also brought new attention from regulators who saw that infrastructure organizations could serve an important role in the midst of a crisis. I believe this underpins some of the new mandates that have come or are coming globally.

We are living in a world now in which conversations among leaders at the World Bank and the Group of Thirty focus not just on monetary funds but central counterparties (CCPs) and even real time gross settlement (RTGS) and delivery versus payment (DvP), she says.

Though she would never say as much, the fact that financial market infrastructures (FMIs) such CCPS and central securities depositories (CSDs) are robust and ready for the challenge has much to do with Considine’s contributions and leadership. But before those efforts even began, she was a biochemistry graduate interviewing for a job at Bankers Trust.

“I seem to remember that, during my interview, I told them I would bring the scientific method to the world of banking,” she says with a laugh. “What I loved about the sciences was the disciplined way of thinking. It was an evolving field where there were lots of things we knew and lots that we did not.”

At Bankers Trust, she entered the brave new world of systems programming—sparking her lifelong interest in technology. “I then left Bankers Trust and went to Chase, a very global bank at the time, my first trip was to London and my second was to Baghdad.”

At Chase, she became involved with the nascent beginnings of SWIFT while building an interface between CHIPS and the cooperative because the systems that had been contracted were did not have the capacity for Chase’s business. “We got it done and got it done on time,” she says of the system, even negotiating her wedding date around SWIFT cutover. She was at the first Sibos meeting in Brussels in 1978, with fewer than 200 participants—compare that with 7,500 who were in Boston this year.

After returning to Bankers Trust and then serving as president of First Women’s Bank (“I may have been the first CEO of a listed bank who was pregnant at the annual meeting,” she says), she was appointed New York State Superintendent of Banks at a crucial time for both Wall Street and the U.S. from the savings and loan crisis to the dismantling of the Glass-Steagall Act. But Considine believes, post-crisis, the world is more complex and interconnected than ever. “The world has become even more global—you no longer look at issues with a bird’s eye view where you are talking basic principles; now it has to be about specifics.”

She was president at the New York Clearing House when the search committee she was on failed to find someone to helm the Depository Trust Corporation. After expressing her dismay at the quality of candidates, her committee member encouraged her to apply. She got the job.

It was a crucial time for the CSD and a prescient one for Considine. “We were fat; we were happy—our competition was our own mentality. I can remember talking to all the staff and telling them that we needed to change and that competition, changes in technology, and international pressure were coming.”

“At a town hall, an employee asked, “Do you want us to be safe and sound or innovative?’ I said, ‘I want us to be both.”
To that end, the DTCC secured an AAA rating for the organization. “We’ve changed; we’re out here and we can compete,” says Considine. “That was a seminal moment in DTCC history.”

The second was a joint venture with Thomson Financial to form the post-trade services provider Omgeo, which—thanks to the tenacity of two female CEOs, the second being Omgeo’s Marianne Brown—went live with 6,000 customers in 40 countries. While safety and soundness was still embedded in the DNA of the DTCC, it flexed its commercial and global reach with Thomson and Omgeo.

An international reach is partly what led her back to market infrastructure this spring when she accepted the position with LCH.Clearnet. At a time of intense pressure for FMIs, what does she think of those who believe infrastructure is being asked to take on more than it can bear?

“It’s not a case of being asked to take on more than they can handle—it’s simply a case of having more and more to do,” says Considine, who is also chair of the board of LCH.Clearnet LLC, the group’s US operations. “We are seeing it at LCH.Clearnet — we are asking how we can innovate and be faster to market, how we can keep up with the needs of the market and mitigate risk as much as possible.

“This means we can never be complacent. More and more is being asked of us and expected of us, but it’s not necessarily that the regulators are telling us to do things, it’s a pressure we put on ourselves internally,” she adds.

–Alexandra DeLuca