Speaker Q&A: Meet David Scola

Our 25th Annual Securities Operations Summit is rapidly approaching, and we’re looking forward to engaging with industry leaders as we explore the theme Financial Services Disrupted: Charting the Course. In preparation for the conference, we’ll be highlighting a few of the featured speakers who will highlight the biggest changes disrupting financial services operations.

One of the speakers who will be sparking these impactful discussions is David Scola, Head of North America, SWIFT, who will be leading the session “Technology Trends in Financial Services: Enabling Change & Transformation.”


Q: We’re thrilled to have you as one of our featured speakers for the conference! What topics are you planning on discussing during your session?

A: Our primary focus will be on technology and the application of new technologies to securities operations. Under that umbrella, we plan to concentrate on a few different topics. One main focus is APIs, and using APIs as a mechanism to create new interfaces between participants within the securities space. Another subject we want to examine is distributed ledger technologies (DLT) and how they’re applied. SWIFT recently announced its proof of concept using DLT for corporate actions activity, so we’ll talk about how other firms are also looking at blockchain in the securities space. The last major theme we’ll discuss will be how machine learning, robotics, and artificial intelligence (AI) are driving new business efficiencies.


Q: Since your appointment as Head of North America in October, what has been at the top of your priority list in deepening SWIFT’s relationships in the region?  

A: My main goal is to make sure that SWIFT is at the table when our clients are discussing their long-term strategies. When people think of SWIFT, they often think about messaging. However, we’re going far beyond that, and are looking to provide solutions at an industry level for things like data analytics as well. We’ve done quite a bit in the payments industry on that front, and now are expanding that focus to the securities space.


Q: What do you see as the biggest threats and opportunities for the financial services industry in the next 3-5 years?

A: One of the biggest threats is fragmentation driven by the application of new technology. One of the initiatives that SWIFT is focused on is developing standards so that as we apply new technologies, we can still talk to each other. Similarly, new global regulations create the possibility of fragmentation, so developing standards will remain a focus to ensure clear communication among industry participants. Finally, cybersecurity remains a massive threat. The securities industry hasn’t been as impacted by that threat as the payments space, but it’s only a matter of time until that happens. We need to be equally as vigilant in protecting the securities community from these vulnerabilities.

As for opportunities, some of the technologies I mentioned earlier offer massive efficiency gains and associated cost decreases as a result of those efficiencies. This benefits not only the companies and banks implementing the technologies, but also the consumers buying these products. If we get it right, there’s a huge opportunity to positively impact the consumer environment.

If I had to choose a technology that has the most near-term promise to enable financial services to capitalize on these efficiencies, it would be APIs. With APIs, you can take an existing business process and move it into an API-based exchange of information fairly readily. You really start reaping the benefits of APIs once you begin remodeling business processes to take advantage of the efficiencies, whereas before, you’d have to change the way people speak with each other. There is a lot to be gained as the industry adopts these emerging technologies and learns how to adapt to seize the opportunities.


Interested in hearing more of David’s insights? Register for the General Session day or for the full three-day conference here