NASDAQ OMX Group Inc.’s CEO Bob Greifeld sits down with Bloomberg Television’s Betty Liu and tells her that NASDAQ shut to stop information asymmetry and will focus on “defensive driving” to ensure this does not happen again.
Greifeld on who is to blame for yesterday’s NASDAQ outage:
“It is too early to say who is to blame, our focus yesterday is to understand the problem, solve the problem and then make sure the community was involved with us when we went live. Today’s job is to make sure the systems run as normally as they can. We clearly have time for further post mortems. The general theme we are focused on going forward is we have to improve our defensive driving ability. This system has been around for 20 years. It works. It works well. Its uptime is remarkably high. Things happen in external environment that causes a problem.”
On whether there is a backup plan for next time:
“Improve your defensive driving, to make sure no matter what happens the systems stays up and has a resiliency and robustness that we did not exhibit yesterday. What happened here and something that the industry needs to think of, there is 13 competitive exchanges, us and the others worked well yesterday. There is one single called Sep which consolidates and disseminates the market data. So the industry has talked for years should there be a competing Sep and we support that concept.”
“We have to always be thinking about what can go wrong in the external environment, how can we get body blows that do not impact us. We are focused on that and we as an industry are focused on that. It is one thing that programs work for 20 years, it is when the unforeseen happens that the system needs to be resilient and robust enough to handle that.”
On NASDAQ’s communication to the public yesterday:
“Our communication yesterday, was something we were very satisfied with…The first thing we did was have an open line with all the other exchanges part of the UTP committee. We could not make any moves with the set because it really is not ours to control without them being involved. It is not like it was episodic it was constant. Then we wanted to communicate to the trading community. At 1pm we had an open line coordinated by SIFMA, the industry body, that was an open line. It was a constant open line. They knew exactly what was happening as it was happening. In addition to that, we sent out 24 hedge trader alerts during this period of time.”
On whether he felt he needed to be out there communicating with the public yesterday:
“No. Could not be. We are focused on solving the operational issue. Our plan of attack is one understand the problem, solve the problem and make sure all those directly involved are involved and can respond accordingly. I call it pre-flight risk check, system came down, we had it fix, within a half hour ready to do. We involved in intensive communication during pre-flight checks”
On conversations with regulators:
“We were talking with the regulators. I would say that the level of communications during this period of time was constant. We had two opens lines going, head trader alerts going and communication with the regulators. We were not on television, we were not public. Not the time to do that. Obviously today is the time to talk about what transpired. But yesterday, we had to focus on fixing the problem. The people were directly involved had to be involved with us, and they were. The people who had to know did know and worked with us. What we are proud of is the fact that we came live and the market operated normally through the balance of the day.”
On whether he should still be CEO:
“I think we are proud of our overall record. Clearly we are deeply disappointed with what happened yesterday. But we run markets around the planet. Our systems are operating 7 by 24 and our uptime is remarkable. We know we live in a situation where technology is a wonderful thing. We could not do what we do today without technology.”
“I think when you look at the performance of NASDAQ–the stock of NASDAQ the business–we’ve done quite well. Our stock is up 20 something percent this year…I think it will come back. I think it is a great buying opportunity for people. But our performance in the marketplace has really been superb. We’ve executed our business plan. In many ways we are in a better position now than we have ever been. We’re making a strong effort into fixed income. Our corporate solutions technology business is stronger than ever. So we have technology customers around the world. It is our fastest growing business and they recognize our technology prowess. Now, we are not perfect and we are disappointed with what happened yesterday.”
“Certainly we are in a competitive situation and we stand by our track record for a long period of time. We are getting complements with respect to the fact of how we handled yesterday. We opened the market quite successfully. Again we stopped the market because we wanted to make sure that all investors were protected. So what happened is that we consolidated the data for the 13 exchanges. As soon as we saw that that had an issue, our first concern was the proprietary firms, high frequency firms, had access to data directly from exchanges. So it was information asymmetry. We halted the market because of that. We quickly identified the problem and quickly solved it.”
On how to instill investor confidence that this situation will not happen again:
“I would say first that we aspire for perfection. We do. We’d like to get for 100% uptime. I don’t think we are ever going to get there. We are 99.99 something today. We need to get better. We’re working on getting better. As importantly, when something does happen, we have to have the process and procedures in place and communication to handle that. We intend to excel at seeking perfection and to excel in responding when perfection does not take place.”
Video for viewing here.
Courtesy of Bloomberg TV
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