Managing Director for International Fxed Income and Prime Brokerage ● Citi ● London ●
Despite the seismic shifts and growth in securities services since he joined Salomon Brothers in 1987, Lou McCrimlisk says one thing hasn’t changed: the need for dialogue. While the ongoing trend toward increased automation has handled the growth in volumes and the behind-the-scenes checks and balances, the loss of manual trades has meant less interaction too. Firms “have to make sure they’re addressing the communication side of the business,” he says.
McCrimlisk is now managing director for international fixed income and prime brokerage at Citi (which absorbed Salomon in 1998). In the 1980s, when McCrimlisk entered the business, financing was a much simpler, “one-dimensional” activity. Now, with the incorporation of activities such as swaps, it has grown exponentially.
During his tenure at Salomon and Citi, he’s seen financing move from a narrowly defined activity to one that is less concerned with boundaries and more interested in solving client issues. This has been a shift of necessity as much as anything else. In order to handle the explosive growth in volumes during the 1990s and 2000s, Citi and other firms have invested heavily in technology to streamline transactions, reduce the possibility of errors and increase efficiencies.
In a word, automation. But automating transactions has meant the discussions that happened at the trade aren’t there anymore, necessitating a change in how the business is operated to keep that discussion intact. “Dialogue and partnership are key.” That’s also what McCrimlisk hopes will come from the market’s current gyrations, too. “Over the last 18 months, the market has shrunk a lot. We need to understand why it shrank so much in order to understand the concerns the participants have had,” he says. “It’s through that dialogue that you’re going to be able to develop a more beneficial market.”