At FXall, Rubinow Gets ‘Front-Row Seat’ in FX Technology Development

By Anthony Malakian, WatersTechnology
3 Apr 2012

After more than decade in the world of exchange operators, Steve Rubinow has chosen to blaze a new path at FXall. While the failed Deutsche Börse merger played a small role in his decision to leave NYSE Euronext, Rubinow says he was primarily seeking a new challenge.

In 11 years as a top technology player on Wall Street, Steve Rubinow has made a name for himself as one of the most respected CIOs in the industry. In 2001, Rubinow took over as CIO of Archipelago Exchange. When that technologically savvy exchange was acquired by the New York Stock Exchange in 2006, he helped to transform NYSE into the multi-asset, electronic global trading behemoth it became after the integration of Euronext. Rubinow’s tenure as CIO on Wall Street is one of the longest. But with NYSE Euronext’s datacenters in place, organizational structure that virtually fully under way, and a global architecture laid out, it was time for a new challenge, he says. “I was looking for a new opportunity,” Rubinow says. “I accomplished a lot at NYSE and I felt that it was a good time to leave and try my hand at something else.” This eventually led to his new role (FXall). Rubinow says that while he had many suitors, FXall represented the best place to land because he could be on the ground floor of something and help it build and grow.

Deutsche Börse Deal a Turning Point
As Deutsche Börse’s attempt to merge with NYSE Euronext was scuttled earlier this year, it’s logical to assume this played a role in Rubinow’s decision to pursue opportunities at a new company. But he says it was a “total coincidence,” as he had been considering leaving for a little while. He acknowledges that he probably would have stayed at NYSE to see the integration through if the merger had been successful—even though he’s seen his share of these integrations and didn’t care to go through another. “When the merger was pending and we still thought it was going to go through, I thought to myself, ‘Let’s see: If I stay here at the exchange—because I’ve been thinking about moving on for a while, and a merger with a synergy realization is a three- to four-year process—my mindset was that I’d basically be signing up for three to four more years of a synergy integration,” he says. “I have done that quite a few times; I decided that I wanted to do something different.”

The Job Search
In late December 2011, Rubinow began to look for a new opportunity. His search was not limited to the financial services industry; he has spent time in Silicon Valley so was open to various options. He immediately received several offers. Of those, FXall, a relatively small company, presented the greatest opportunity to achieve “the sheer joy of accomplishment,” Rubinow says. “My track record demonstrates that not only do I like to do things that are noticeable inside a company; I like to do things that are noticeable within an industry,” he says. “I think the FX industry still has some maturing to do in terms of technology, process and regulation, and I thought it would be great to have a front-row seat.” Rubinow says there’s a drive in the FX market to make it more technologically advanced. He also finds the market fascinating because even ordinary citizens are sensitive to the peaks and valleys of foreign governments and exchange rates.

Setting the Tone
Rubinow says it’s important to him that the last 10 years of his career have been characterized by transformational change and innovation. When the management of FXall talk about innovation and change, he says, they really mean it. One of the first things Rubinow wants to do at FXall is understand where clients want the company to be, where they are now, and how to bridge those gaps. “Whether it takes a month, a year or three years—whatever the plan may be—we need to address how we will fill those gaps and plot a course so that everyone knows where we’re going, everyone is on board and they can see the progress,” he says. He also says he wants to “set a tone” for the way that he likes to work—and the way he thinks technologists like to work. “I have a Silicon Valley mindset, so to the extent that you can run a company like this, I want it to run in a very agile fashion—very entrepreneurial and innovative,” he says. “The reason is that not only do you accomplish a lot of things, but it’s also a lot of fun and people are much more satisfied with their accomplishments when you do that.”

The Bottom Line
● Rubinow says the failed merger with Deutsche Börse played a very small role in his decision to leave NYSE Euronext.
● FXall represents an opportunity to get in on the ground floor at a small company that is looking to grow through technological innovation.
● Rubinow, who is only in his second day on the job, says he will first look to establish an IT roadmap and direction, in addition to setting a Silicon Valley-like tone at FXall.