MIAMI --The next crisis in the financial services industry may have nothing to do with overextending credit or breaking the buck. The next crisis could be a ‘technology shock,’’ according to fund executives.
“One of the things that gnaws at me is a technology shock,’’ said Steven L. Fradkin, President, Corporate and Institutional Business Unit at Northern Trust at NICSA’s 30th Annual Conference and Expo.
The $23.1 trillion investment fund industry is “so dependent on things always being up,’’ said Fradkin. It is only built to sustain “a blip that gets fixed instantaneously.’’
But power outages can bring down industries or regions of the country for days. “Our industry is not that well-equipped to handle a major technical shutdown,’’ he said.
The May 6, 2010, Flash Crash was a one-day example of what could go wrong, said Michael W. Roberge, President and Chief Investment Officer at MFS Investment Management.
That day, a $4 billion order by a mutual fund complex triggered erratic behavior by stock and commodity market participants that led to a disappearance of players willing to place orders that would create liquidity, the Securities and Exchange Commission and Commodity Futures Trading Commission said. The Dow Jones Industrial Average plunged nearly 1,000 points, before snapping back in the same trading session.
“What would happen with a week-long technology problem,’’ Roberge asked.
The sudden onset of a bear market in bonds could produce that kind of shock, he said. He indicated that kind of long-lasting shock would force the industry to shake out its technology, should one occur.