FIA Expo 2021: Post-COVID, Industry Returns En Force, Looking For Synergies

Walt Lukken at EXPO 2021
Suzanne Cosgrove

Suzanne Cosgrove


It’s been two years since an in-person FIA Expo in Chicago and judging from the effusive mood of the crowd, there was a lot of pent-up demand.

Kicking off two days of panels and fireside chats on Wednesday was FIA President and CEO Walt Lukken, who noted that while the industry adapted and was highly productive during those gap years, “there are certain synergies and intangibles that can’t be replicated.”

As an example of this kind of in-person spontaneity, he said that two years ago the ragtag FIA band, Pork Belly and the Out-Trades, played at Legends, blues musician Buddy Guy’s Chicago club, and surprising the band, Guy himself jumped on the stage and sang along.

During the pandemic, the industry missed that kind of “creative magic,” he said. “This is why FIA felt it was imperative to bring this community back in a safe and thoughtful manner.”

Lukken said the derivatives industry is currently buffeted by some very major trends. ”From climate change to inflation to retail to crypto, change seems no longer linear, it feels exponential,” he said.

He remains skeptical of crypto, and noted that while no one is going to call him “Crypto Walt,” it’s clear that the markets believe there is value in these instruments. “Most traditional exchanges – including exchange leaders on our [FIA’s] next panel – have crypto offerings.”

“FIA supports a thoughtful U.S. government review of the regulatory regime around these instruments,” Lukken said. “Whether it’s the Financial Stability Oversight Council or the President’s Working Group, this review will ensure the protection of investors and the integrity of these markets.” He added: The CFTC needs a strong voice in these deliberations, “and FIA calls on the Senate to quickly confirm Acting Chair Behman so there is a permanent chair representing the views of our markets.”

Lukken also addressed the need to modernize the industry’s clearing systems, “the roads, bridges and highways of our markets.” He noted that the FIA on Tuesday released “Modernizing the Listed Derivatives Workflow: A Blueprint for Change,” a report based on interviews by JDX Consulting with some 60 industry participants, and he urged Expo attendees to provide the FIA with their feedback on the study.

The report recommended a path to improve the industry’s infrastructure through the development of standards and best practices, including the creation of an independent standards body to oversee the development of industry standards and best practices.

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