Tradeweb's CEO explains why outside events are the best catalyst for tech-inspired changes

| Tradeweb Markets | Business Insider
Lee Olesky
CEO, Tradeweb Markets

This article originally appeared on Business Insider here.

Inspiration for innovation can come in many forms, but perhaps the best is when you have no other option.

That's the perspective Lee Olesky, CEO of Tradeweb, takes when looking at things outside his control.

"There's nothing like an external event to really act as a catalyst for change," said Olesky while speaking at Business Insider's Global Trends Festival.

Change is a critical part of Olesky's business. Tradeweb operates electronic markets in over 40 products across the globe in rates, bonds, and exchange-traded funds. The company, which was cofounded by Olesky in 1996, has spent nearly 25 years convincing traders to handle transactions electronically instead of over the phone. 

From the rise of the internet, to the 2008 financial crisis, and the increase in regulations that followed, Olesky has seen his fair share of volatility in the outside world. 

Olesky said the pandemic, and the shift to remote work, represents the next great upheaval.

"Now the big driver, actually, I think is this work-from-home scenario. This remote scenario, that I think will stay sticky," he said. "I think that's really the big wave we're seeing right now."

The next stage

Olesky has been a big believer that the fallout of the pandemic will be long-lasting changes to how work is done.

While speaking on a webinar in late March, Olesky said there would be no turning back some of the adjustments made due to the pandemic.

"We are not going to go back. We are going to be in a new environment, and we now know we can function in many businesses — not all for sure — but in many businesses remotely," Olesky said while speaking on a webinar with Greenwich Associates Kevin McPartland in March. "I think that is a fundamental game-changer when it comes to, you know, the business impact here and the personnel impact."

To be sure, outside events aren't the only thing driving change at Tradeweb. Olesky said traditional goals, such as lowering costs, speeding up the time it takes to do transactions, and working more efficiently, also play a part. 

More recently, the rise in data, has been a factor.

"What's happened with data science, and what's happened with statistics and all the algorithms people are using now, further accelerates this move into an electronic change," he added.

To be sure, there is still resistance. Olesky acknowledged certain instruments still trade very infrequently, and require actual conversations. 

Still, Olesky sees promise in the continued progress Tradeweb has made.

"The resistance almost feels like it's gone," he said.

"Anything that trades with any regularity, we think, will be largely electronic."


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