Many firms that we speak to secretly struggle with FIX connectivity.

From the outside, perhaps it looks as if they have a process that hangs together:

  • They have a PDF describing their API (although perhaps you find mistakes in some places)
  • There’s a test environment to connect to (although it probably doesn’t perfectly mirror production)
  • There’s a contact person for any questions (although if they went on holiday you might be stuck)
  • They are helpful in terms of flexing their API if required, or removing functionality from scope if you say you won’t use it.

Much like a duck moving across water, the internal reality of FIX connectivity is often quite different, which is why I suggest that firms secretly struggle with connectivity.

For example:

  • You find holes in the API documentation because it may not be reviewed very often
  • There is often a lot of demands for (shared) test environments within firms, which results in environment instability and change – often your contact will also be in the dark
  • You are probably right to question what happens if your contact went on holiday because handing over projects between team members is notoriously difficult
  • Clients don’t see the struggles of juggling multiple projects at once and trying to coordinate internal and external stakeholders such as networking and KYC.

It doesn’t have to be like this, however.

For almost a decade, we’ve been talking to firms about what works and what doesn’t, and we’ve distilled these down into five principles for successful FIX connectivity:

1 – API FIRST

Your API is the gateway to your business; it should be the first thing you consider and not the last.

2 – PROCESS DESIGN

Processes should be deliberately designed, consistently used (enforced), measured and improved over time.

3 – UNDERSTAND YOUR CUSTOMER

Focus on understanding your customer’s needs, timelines and objectives. Discover these at the initial meeting and keep them in your mind going forward.

4 – AUTOMATE & INTEGRATE

Software should automate and enforce your process, promote re-use and eliminate re-keying wherever possible.

5 – ADVISE & ANTICIPATE

At every step, seek out ways to move from reactive to proactive. Identify the metrics that matter and using them to step in early to help your clients and firm.

Time and again, we’ve found that firms that follow this formula for success, not only have faster and easier connectivity, but can also scale more easily, and also improve customer service. Firms which don’t follow these principles might be able to “muddle through”, but they feel the constant frustration that connectivity is more far more painful (and slower) than it should be.

APIs are the vital lifeblood of trading – it couldn’t exist without them.

Building liquidity in your trading service is therefore directly linked to your ability to quickly onboard customers. And isn’t that an outcome that is worth investing in?