Sinara at 30: coming of age


In 2019, Sinara Consultants are celebrating our 30th anniversary. To mark this significant milestone, a series of blog entries look back on some of the events and projects over that time. This entry covers the period from 2015 to 2019 where Sinara successfully tackled large projects in commodities trading, market data, and major regulatory changes.

2015

How hard can it be to write some software to process a calendar? Well it’s not so simple if the calendar provides allowable delivery dates for metal futures. The algorithms concerned require the day of the week that Christmas Day falls upon and much more besides. National holiday dates need to be known for over 10 years in advance. Tricky when, for instance, Vernal Equinox Day (a public holiday in Japan) is not officially declared until February of the previous year, due to the need for up to date recent astronomical measurements.

This year also saw another Sinara built electronic auction site go live, the purpose of which was (and still is) to deliver precious metal reference prices. Unfortunately, no platinum ingots have arrived at the Sinara office, unlike a previous Sinara auction site where a piece of dried mud was delivered during system testing (see 1999).

Just to reinforce that we were aware of contemporary social media trends, Sinara signed up to Twitter – as I write we have as many followers as Lady Gaga (if you divide by one million).

2016

This proved to be one of the most significant years in Sinara’s history, with three major new projects initiated fulfilling completely different requirements within the derivative trading arena. Each project was for a different client, two new ones and one with the LME.

For the LME we needed to design and build a new version of their post-trade registration and matching system, which we achieved using a combination of our existing technologies coupled with bespoke components. This was a vital business function within the exchange, and a further vote of confidence that Sinara’s approach delivered the necessary quality, resilience and ongoing support. Any major production glitch would result in front page headlines (well maybe business page headlines).

We updated the Sinara website as part of new marketing and recruitment campaigns although this proved a little difficult. All the web developers were too busy on client work to restructure our site, and some of our clients were reluctant to let us give any clue as to their identity or what work we do for them to help deliver their competitive edge. No idea why…

2017

The three major projects referred to above, alongside other smaller-scale ones, continued to occupy our development effort.  But the management team were not idle as they took some key business decisions. A renewed confidence encouraged us to focus on the exchange trading and clearing ecosystem, at the expense of more immediate opportunities that did not fit our goals.

Another important decision was to invest further in non-development related activities, specifically infrastructure and support.  Client support had always been an important component of our services, but the upcoming deployment of key systems required us to reinvigorate our approach. We hired a new support manager and he set about building up his team and upgrading our tools and procedures.

We also refurbished a large part of our office – it had been previously occupied by our old friends at KMS, an amicable separation. As well as more general space, this gave us a focal point for the new support team and a new kitchen and break-out area for everybody. However the pool table proposal, though championed by a director, did not make it through the consultation process.

2018

In January, MiFID II was rolled out across Europe. If you haven’t come across MiFID II before you are very lucky; suffice to say that legislative changes rarely fail to give a boost to project opportunities and this was no exception. Fortunately, we could take advantage of this and a number of Sinara projects were initiated in late 2017, far too late for comfort in fact. Nevertheless, these were deployed before the new year and civilisation as we know it survived.

In May, GDPR was rolled out across Europe. If you haven’t come across GDPR before I don’t believe you; suffice to say that legislative changes rarely fail to give a boost to project opportunities and this was no exception. Unfortunately these opportunities weren’t really for us. Instead we had to adapt and enhance our internal policies and procedures so as to comply with the new regime.

In September there were no legislative changes to worry about. This allowed us to concentrate on our first ever company away day.  All staff relocated to the Business Design Centre for the day where everybody was able to contribute to discussions including our values, what would make Sinara better, and the art of thinking clearly (apparently pizza is the answer to all three). The highlight of the day for most, though not this blogger, was the team-bonding session at The Crystal Maze.

2019

So to 2019, Sinara’s 30th anniversary and the year that Brexit was finally resolved (Ed: is this true?). As befits a company moving into middle age, the ups and downs of youth are behind us and instead we have steady progression. We have delivered new systems, including price discovery and option premium calculation, RFQ, and mobile applications for commodities trading. Sinara systems already in production were enhanced, some significantly for example adding physical delivery support to an commodities inventory management system.

We also progressed our plans to develop a suite of new products for the exchange and clearing space, bringing together much of the proven technology developed by Sinara over the years.

For our 30th anniversary in June we enjoyed the now traditional weekend trip to Paris (well if it ain’t broke don’t fix it). An orange juice breakfast, with or without champagne, on the Eurostar to Gare du Nord followed that evening with a meal on the first stage of the Eiffel Tower. Sunday morning saw the Sinara larks take part in a treasure hunt exploring the backstreets of Le Marais, whilst the owls wondered why it had been a good idea to persuade the hotel security guard to keep the bar open until 2am.

We now look forward to next year with confidence. Our sales pipeline is looking healthy, five developers joined our team this year including three new graduates in September, and we anticipate similar expansion in the future. But who knows what’s in store – if only we had 2020 vision!

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