I get it: Compliance and oversight can be intimidating, particularly for the traders who are working on the front lines every day.
We normally speak with compliance folks. They're the ones that make the buying decisions for our software. They're the ones that are tasked with keeping the company out of trouble. For them, the work that we do at Whistler makes total sense and solves a real problem.
But for traders, it can be difficult at first.
This came into clear focus recently when I was out with a group of traders, explaining what Whistler is all about. I told them that we analyze every incoming and outgoing communication for risk. We provide compliance training in the moment, and feedback, because we analyze as fingers are hitting the keys. We even prevent problematic things from happening in the first place by preventing the problematic communications.
The reaction, I think half joking, was "Oh my God, I don't want that installed in my workplace, because the things I say on IceChat every day, I would never want ... it would be a problem. I'd be blowing up all day."
But we're not here to spy or something like that. We're here to keep traders like these out of trouble. The reason the compliance folks are installing Whistler is because they want to keep the company safe. Everybody wants to make money, and you want to keep the company safe.
But the point is I could see, when I told them the company was started by two traders, myself and Evan, who recognized that the fines were ever-growing, compliance was getting trickier, there's more and more ways to communicate, it's hard to keep up, and that technology could help.
And that's where Whistler was born.
It was cool. It was interesting to see the light bulb going off, for them and for me, on how Whistler doesn't just help the C-suite, who's charged with taking care of this, but it helps every employee who really wants to not only help the company be successful, but really wants to prevent himself or herself from inadvertently ending their career.
There's a story somebody told me about a fellow who'd been fined for a single spoof by the CME. It was kind of bizarre, because it was just one single spoof out of a number of different trades. He was kind of a junior trader. And ultimately it affected his ability to get hired into his next position. They were going to hire him, but there was some hair on it. Compliance said maybe hire him as an analyst even though he's already experienced as a trader, because we've got to see if this thing has legs and if it's going to create risk for everybody.
He ends up just going into a different industry entirely and just kind of bailing on it. Maybe that was for the best. Or maybe that was a shame. It could have been that he was going to go on and have a great career, and that one thing was just sort of a black mark.
But anyway, the other side of it, I think what's underpinning that joke about “I don't want this installed here” is that hey, listen, I mess around a little bit, but I am doing the right thing, and I'm not doing anything nefarious, which we also believe. The best thing I can say about that is I think what our system reminds me of, it's akin to the lane departure warning systems they've got on modern cars.
My father-in-law's got a Subaru, and I remember the first time I drove it, it's got the adaptive cruise control and it's got the lane departure system. You set the cruise control, and then you set the distance between you and the next car, and it will either catch you up or it will slow you down, depending on how fast traffic is moving. Additionally, when the lane departure system is on, it beeps at you when you go out of your lane. I remember the first time I drove it, I was like, "What is this thing beeping at me? Why would I want this thing?"
Knock on wood, I have not been in an accident where I was at fault in over 20 years, so I'm a pretty good driver, not reckless. But that said, to that end, I was like, "Why do I need this? I'm a good driver. I'm not going out of my lane. Don't need this."
The thing that jumped out at me over time and as I used it more and more, was that it beeped at me more than I thought it would, meaning I was going out of my lane inadvertently, either without signaling or I was just actually crossing over the lane line way more often than I thought I was, which I found surprising. And then it kind of made me think, I guess there's some risk there. Like I said, it's been 20 years. There's not really an issue, but that said, if this thing could actually prevent me from having an accident, loss of life, loss of property, whatever it might be, mine or someone else's, why would you not want that? Why would you not want that level of protection? It doesn't hurt you, and it might just help you.
Call it artificial intelligence, call it technology of some kind or another, but letting technology guide us, even in things that we do every day, can ultimately help us be better at it and keep us out of trouble. And, for traders, that's what Whistler is all about.