The WFE's Women Leaders 2023 - Alison King, Head of Trading and Clearing Services, SGX Group
Name: Alison King
Organisation: SGX Group
Job Title: Head of Trading and Clearing Services
1. Brief description of nominee’s role and job:
Alison King is head of Trading and Clearing Services, Equities, at Singapore Exchange (SGX Group). She is responsible for the strategy and development of the exchange’s securities and derivatives trading and clearing platforms, covering a full suite of equity and derivatives products across Asian equities, equity indices, commodities and FX. Alison works closely with SGX trading and clearing customers to support their platform requirements and to grow the business. She leads the way in bridging the gap between technology and the business, ensuring the alignment of interests and efficient communication between both parties.
2. Short bio (career highlights, education, interests/hobbies):
Alison started her career in finance with Westpac Banking Corporation, where she developed an interest in business transformation and platform re-engineering. When offered an opportunity to broaden her experience in this area with the Sydney Futures Exchange (SFE) she jumped at it, starting her on the road to a long and fruitful career in market structure.
Alison has more than 25 years of experience working with and for various international exchanges and CCPs across the globe. Her career has taken her to exchanges including SFE, Eurex and Nasdaq (OMX). Notably, at Nasdaq, she was part of the Market Technology team responsible for Clearing, CCP and CSDs. Nasdaq Technology is used by many exchanges and CCPs globally, and she had the opportunity to work with exchanges and CCPs in Moscow, Dubai, Hong Kong, London, Sydney and Singapore.
An industry veteran with a wealth of experience in market processes and technology, Alison has delivered many innovative solutions and platforms for multiple exchanges globally.
Alison joined SGX Group in 2014 and among her career highlights was her work in bringing the pioneering platform, SGX Titan, to the market. SGX Titan is SGX’s low-latency, high-throughput trading, trade registration and clearing platform that caters to the growing needs for SGX equity index, FX and commodity derivative products.
Alison was a leader in the team behind the launch of SGX Titan in November 2016, achieving numerous firsts. Notably, SGX was the first derivatives exchange globally to use a new binary protocol targeted towards latency sensitive trading firms; this paved the way for derivative exchanges around the world to eventually adopt this protocol. SGX Titan introduced many market leading features, including a fully integrated trading and clearing system, new integrated and enhanced Pre-Trade Risk Controls, Self-Trade Prevention (STP), improved collateral management system, and importantly, provided for the longest trading hours in Asia. It was the largest upgrade SGX had embarked on and with close collaboration across the market, the launch was a ground-breaking effort that has facilitated considerable growth at SGX over the years.
As an avid traveller, Alison has been lucky to be able to combine her career with her interest, being exposed to new places, people and cultures, which has helped her develop a broader perspective and world view – “Travel helps open your mind, to learn and experience the diversity in cultures across the world.”
3. What were your professional highlights and challenges in 2022?
I firmly believe that an exchange is only as good as its entire trading and clearing ecosystem – platform, operations, risk management – and not simply the listed products.
COVID-19 was an opportunity for SGX to shine and strengthen its reputation as a trusted, all-weather exchange. Over the past two years, we embarked on many product and platform initiatives and worked with industry partners like FIA Tech and OSSTRA in the use of emerging technologies and market solutions. I was glad to see our efforts culminate in SGX becoming the first CCP in Asia to go live with FIA Tech on Trade Data Network (TDN) to enhance end-to-end lifecycle transparency in the global derivatives market. This is an initiative to solve industry-wide problems – which were amplified during COVID-19 – relating to post trade management, data and reconciliations, and increase efficiency and accuracy with secure, permissioned ledger.
In bridging our business with technology, I work with partners to bring innovative solutions to our market. One highlight would be the work we do with Sequitor, which is able to provide a full-scale simulation of the market through interconnected exchange replicas. SGX is one of the first exchanges to use this technology to strengthen the robustness of our soon-to-be-launched NSE IFSC-SGX Connect in GIFT City. We plan to work with Sequitor to expand this simulation service to our members in due course.
I am part of the core team leading the development of the novel NSE IFSC-SGX Connect that SGX and NSE rolled out last July, with full scale operation targeted this year. This is a significant, pioneering project that will set a benchmark for India’s capital markets as well as broaden the participation and deepen the liquidity of Nifty products. SGX is implementing an entirely new platform for the Connect, where we will act as a ‘super broker’ running front, mid and back-office services for our clients. We will also migrate the open interest and trading activity of our Nifty futures from SGX to NSE-IFSC, using our experience behind the world-first “liquidity switch” from MSCI to FTSE Russell back in 2020.
I am also particularly proud to be part of the team to launch New Zealand’s Exchange’s (NZX) suite of dairy derivatives on SGX Titan, under a strategic partnership between NZX and SGX. Again, this is a first-of-its-kind project where we worked hard to make the transition seamless for trading and clearing members of both exchanges. Hence, it was very gratifying to see last year how the volumes, open interest and the ecosystem of clients and brokers using these dairy contracts have expanded exponentially since launch.
As someone who is deeply interested in sustainability, being involved in Climate Impact X (CIX) – a partnership between SGX, DBS, Standard Chartered and Temasek to develop an exchange for high quality carbon credits – marries both work and personal interest. I am part of the team advising CIX on market operations and with the success of CIX’s Auction and Marketplace, I am very excited to play my part in making a positive impact to the environment.
Last, but certainly not least, my day-to-day work includes working closely with our industry, including our trading and clearing members and vendors, on business continuity planning and recovery in the event of cyber-related and data corruption events. Strengthening our resiliency in peace time has never been more important and this is part of the work that I do to help ‘keep the lights on’ 24/7.
4. What and who inspires, and has inspired, you to achieve your professional success?
Being in a male-dominated industry has resulted in all my managers and mentors throughout my career being male.
I would say the common thread that enabled my career progression was my managers challenging and pushing me out of my comfort zone, enabling me to take on work that was instrumental in my development. I was lucky that the managers I have had were supportive and provided me with the opportunities to take on new areas of work and projects without prior experience.
From being hired at SFE to replace its derivatives clearing system without knowing what a future was, setting up OTC Clearing at Eurex with little OTC derivatives experience, to taking over platform strategy for both Trading and Clearing at SGX with predominantly Clearing experience – these achievements were only possible with great managers, mentors and collaborative colleagues I could rely on.
Through these experiences, I have learnt a lot, and as such, I am always inspired by those who have a never-say-never, can-do attitude.
5. What advice do you have for other women who aspire to be in leadership positions?
Building a network of friends, mentors and colleagues whom I have been able to rely on throughout my career for support and advice has definitely helped me.
It is important for organisations to build a female talent pipeline and to provide a supportive environment for female leaders to succeed and thrive. As female leaders, we should coach, mentor and guide fellow female colleagues. Male leaders play a critical role too and women who aspire to be in leadership positions should be open to having both male and female mentors as they can lend different perspectives.
My advice for women is twofold: never be afraid to ask questions and more importantly, be sure to create and nurture connections and a network of people you can reach out to. Above all, always be willing to reciprocate and offer a helping hand and advice to the next generation!
The views, thoughts and opinions contained in this Focus article belong solely to the author and do not necessarily reflect the WFE’s policy position on the issue, or the WFE’s views or opinions.