Frank La Salla became DTCC’s eighth President and CEO, including predecessor companies’ CEOs and Presidents, on August 12, 2022. La Salla, whose successful career has spanned more than three decades in financial services, recently spoke to DTCC Connection on the occasion of his 100th day as CEO to share his insights on the firm, his thoughts for the coming year and DTCC’s plans to grow its role in the industry.
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DC: Congratulations on your 100th day as President and CEO. How have you focused your time during your first three months as CEO?
FL: Thanks very much. I thought it was important to dive deep into the organization, speak to employees during site visits and, more recently, engage with clients, regulators, consulting firms, industry partners, policymakers and other stakeholders. It’s been educational and exciting to learn from them and to share my own ideas about the firm and the opportunity I see for us to play a larger role supporting the industry and providing leadership on a wider range of issues in the future.
DC: What’s impressed you most about the company?
FL: DTCC is a strong and vibrant organization that is performing well. Our clients place their trust in us, and we deliver on that every day, thanks to an incredibly talented team of professionals. They bring deep subject matter expertise on a wide range of issues. However, I’ve been most impressed by our purpose-driven culture. It’s a major asset and a cornerstone of our organization, which we should never underestimate.
DC: You mentioned meeting with clients, regulators and other stakeholders globally. What feedback did they give you and how will it shape DTCC’s strategy?
FL: Everyone has been open, honest and direct with me, which I appreciate. We’ve talked a lot about DTCC’s reputation for trust, integrity and consistency, as well as our strong sense of purpose and the expertise we bring to market infrastructure issues. Clients told me that they value DTCC, but they also said they have high expectations that we must meet. They want us to lead and move the industry forward by growing beyond our traditional role to help them manage a wider range of needs. They also want our firm to innovate by introducing new ideas, products and services. And they want top value for the services they receive.
Q: The external environment is expected to be challenging in 2023. Can you talk about the headwinds facing the industry and DTCC?
FL: We’re all encountering headwinds on multiple fronts, including continued geopolitical and macroeconomic challenges. As you know, interest rates are at their highest levels in decades, inflation remains a drag on growth and we may be facing a potential recession. We already see many clients taking steps to prepare for difficult times next year. On the regulatory front, we’re excited to help lead efforts to accelerate settlement in the US to T+1, and we’re studying the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s (SEC) Treasury clearing proposal to understand its impact. These are important opportunities for us, but they will also raise expectations among our supervisors. In addition, the war for talent continues in full force, which will make retaining and recruiting the best people an area of intense focus for us next year.
DC: It sounds like we’re entering a period where uncertainty in the external environment will have a direct impact on the industry and DTCC.
FL: That’s exactly right. It’s an inflection point, and just like similar moments in DTCC’s past, we’ll need to proactively evolve to propel us forward and define our role in the global marketplace of the future. This isn’t new because DTCC has been evolving since its inception – and more so since the financial crisis – and it’s precisely during times like these that great organizations pull themselves up to the next level and elevate the work they do. At the same time, we must balance that change with preserving the many positive attributes and qualities that make DTCC special.
DC: The industry is also undergoing a digital transformation, which was accelerated by the pandemic. What’s your view on the role DTCC can play in the digitalization of financial markets?
FL: We’re committed to continuing to lead the industry’s digital transformation. Our digital strategy is structured around two key pillars. The first is centered on advancing ongoing digitization efforts, which will take DTCC’s capabilities to the next level by leveraging cloud, APIs and artificial intelligence and machine learning. The second focuses on digital assets by identifying opportunities to develop innovative, new business models enabled by distributed ledgers, smart contracts and tokenization. By creating a digital platform, we can expand our reach into adjacent areas to provide greater support to the industry while also establishing, governing and connecting networks to drive interoperability and avoid silos.
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DC: You’ve been a strong proponent of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DE&I) throughout your career. Why is it so important to you and what are your DE&I goals for DTCC?
FL: I believe that the most successful companies are filled with people who have diverse viewpoints and who bring fresh perspectives to their roles. And I’m just as convinced that diversity without inclusion is meaningless – you must have both and ensure that everyone has a seat at the table and can be heard. This is why our Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) are so important. They represent inclusion in action. In fact, when we speak about inclusion, it’s validated through the work of the ERGs. This is an area I’m passionate about, and I’m looking forward to increasing our impact by maturing and advancing our Environmental, Social and Governance program.
DC: What’s one message you want to share with readers as we prepare to enter 2023?
FL: Our firm will celebrate its 50th anniversary next year, and we’re planning to salute our rich history and pay respect to the leaders and colleagues who built this firm from the ground up. I believe the best way we can honor that legacy is by acting now to accelerate our evolution and position DTCC for a new era of industry leadership.