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Outlining a transformational vision for the post-pandemic world, DTCC senior leaders met virtually with executives from the Asia-Pacific client community for DTCC’s fifth annual APAC Executive Council meeting to discuss the challenges of 2020, new operating models and opportunities in the coming year.

DTCC President and CEO Mike Bodson addressed the participants, who represented buy-side, sell-side and custody firms from the Asia-Pacific region, providing a global view of the post-trade environment as well as DTCC’s short- and long-term plans. Tim Keady, head of DTCC Solutions, and Joseph Capablanca, Executive Director, Asia Pacific Relationship Management, discussed DTCC's near-term priorities and long-term goals to address industry pain points, and shared DTCC’s modernization plans to create a flexible, digital infrastructure for clients.

Managing Disruption Effectively

In opening remarks, Bodson referred to 2020 as the “most challenging and bizarre year I’ve ever seen.” Praising the industry’s response as “absolutely amazing,” Bodson recalled the early days of the pandemic when firms began working virtually but quickly operated almost as business as usual.

“When I speak to our board members and other senior people in the industry, they are very quick to say that things are working well,” he said. “In the beginning, we all scrambled to set up employees so they could work remotely, but the industry banded together. We got through that initial chaotic period very effectively and that continues to this day.”

Looking to 2021

While markets have stabilized since the extreme volatility in March and April, there is a great deal of uncertainty about how they will perform in 2021. “Some people think we may return to the 2014/ 2015 business environment, which was a slower period, characterized by low interest rates and low volume activity,” Bodson said. “Others think we will continue to see volatility as economies move back and forth. We will be planning for both scenarios so we can move quickly if markets are slower and revenue drops, or if markets come back more quickly and we have the ability to invest at a faster pace.”

As firms refine plans to re-open offices globally in the new year, Bodson noted that DTCC is focused on a number of factors, including office location, local health conditions and requirements, development and availability of COVID-19 vaccines and steps for mitigating risk to employees. “Nothing is more important than the safety and health of our colleagues,” he said.

Bodson acknowledged the stress and emotional toll that the pandemic is taking on all employees, particularly during periods of extreme market volatility and volume. He said the firm’s emphasis on Agile ways of working helped to build a solid foundation for the collaboration and cooperation needed for remote working.

Preparing for the Future

Despite the pandemic, DTCC maintained its focus on executing its strategy and the transformation of the organization to better serve clients in the future. The four primary areas of focus are reimagining processes, modernizing technology, enhancing resiliency and elevating the client experience.

“We are rethinking existing solutions and prioritizing key resiliency principles for our technology,” Bodson said. “We’re rebuilding our baseline, foundational technology, and we’re looking at all our business and technology architectures to create a plan to completely rethink and modernize our technology. We want to transform DTCC and reshape post-trade to meet the demands of the industry and the needs of our clients. It is a very exciting time.”

Client feedback is a critical element of DTCC’s planning to ensure the industry is being best served in the post-pandemic world.

“The future is uncertain, but we think we are taking the right steps to deliver increased client value,” Bodson said. “It’s important that you provide input and help us to better understand your needs so that we remain in sync and collaborate on new solutions.”