By Peter High. Published on Forbes
Steve Randich has been a CIO many times over at organizations like the Chicago Stock Exchange, the NASDAQ, and with Citibank prior to taking on his current post as CIO of Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, Inc., better known as FINRA, which is a non-governmental organization that regulates brokerage firms and exchange markets. When asked about the evolution of the CIO role, he indicates that he has not seen much evolution, but that may be because he was a strategic leader, driving innovation from the CIO post long before others were presumptuous enough to think to do so.
At FINRA, Randich’s innovations center around leveraging artificial intelligence and machine learning to better surveil markets and broker-dealers. He also has led one of the most dramatic implementations of the public cloud. So extensive is the implementation that Amazon Web Services considers FINRA a best case example of the use of its technology. Randich has become an evangelist of the public cloud, citing it as the single technology across his career that actually gets cheaper as you use it more.
In this interview, he offers insights into all of the above and more.
Peter High: Could you give a rundown of FINRA’s operation and your role as the Chief Information Officer?
Steve Randich: FINRA goes back to 1937 when it was known as the National Association of Security Dealers. After going through some mergers, other regulatory functions, and stock exchanges, the company became known as FINRA ten years ago. FINRA, which employs roughly 3,500 people, focuses on protecting investors by surveilling both the markets and the broker-dealer activities. As CIO, I run a 1,100-person organization, which focuses on building surveillance systems that assist our staff in examining firms and regulating the markets.
High: How are the new weapons in the IT arsenal implemented into FINRA’s strategy?
Randich: FINRA processes enormous amounts of data as the company handles upwards of fifty billion transactions on a daily basis, including all of the quotes, orders, and trades collectively across the equity markets in the United States. Additionally, the company looks at the historical data to identify trends over time, which exposes market manipulation, insider trading, and fraud in the markets. Several years ago, FINRA decided to use open-source, big data technologies on public cloud platforms to handle the large amounts of data efficiently and with scale. Today, those efforts are largely completed, and we are now moving into machine learning and advanced analytics. This will enable machines to do more of the surveillance, which allows our surveillance analysts to avoid the work that is better suited for the machines.