The Player: Brian Williamson, executive Chairman of LIFFE - Can Williamson give Liffe a new lease of life?

PERSONAL DETAILS: Aged 54. Pay, pounds 330,000. Lives in Chelsea. No car of his own, but drives wife's Subaru. When time allows, enjoys skiing and sailing.

CHALLENGE: To recover competitive ground lost to Eurex, the European Exchange encompassing the German and Swiss derivatives markets, become more responsive to customer needs, cut costs and regain its reputation for technological innovation. Derivatives exchanges are highly dependent on the health of the underlying markets, says Mr Williamson. "This is both the dilemma that Liffe has, and the reason for having some optimism."

CORPORATE BACKGROUND: One of the founders of Liffe. Became one of its directors in 1980, and was chairman in 1985-88. In 1982, he founded the global brokerage house, GNI Ltd, with Mark Davies and Christopher Sharples. Governor of Nasdaq for three years to 1998. Current directorships include Financial Services Authority, Electra Investment Trust, Fleming Worldwide Investment Trust and Bank of Ireland.

STRATEGY: An exchange such as Liffe, which has a wide international spread of customers, "is going to feel the winds of competition much faster than anywhere else", says Mr Williamson. In order to meet the challenges, Liffe is going through what Mr Williamson likes to describe as "the four winds of change". The roll-out of the new electronic trading system, Liffe Connect, is being accelerated. Liffe launched its Automated Pit Trading system (APT) in 1989 which Mr Williamson said was "way ahead of its time". The trouble was that customers wanted the business automated, not the Pit. Mr Williamson believes that open outcry trading has acquired an unfair reputation and still has a role to play. "Where cash markets are poor, the Pit is a tremendous mechanism for discovering price," he says. Eighty per cent of Liffe Connect is up and running. Restructuring inevitably means job losses. By the end of this year, Liffe's staff numbers will be reduced by two-thirds, and costs will be a third lower. Mr Williamson also says the exchange has five times as much property as it needs. Finally, there is thought to be scope to improve the internal regulatory structure of Liffe. Mr Williamson says that rules and regulations tied to open outcry Pit trading are inappropriate for its customers. These large global international funds are trading around the world as wholesale counter-parties, he says. Recent rule changes allowing in external shareholders are expected to lead to investment in Liffe by some of its independent software vendors. These include Reuters, Bloomberg LP and Datastream/ICV. Mr Williamson welcomes the organisation's move to a more businesslike footing. "The exchange is not an institution. It is not a club. It is a business. It may be less cosy but will be more productive," he says.

Cautious optimism is the current mood at Liffe. The launch of the Euribor (three-month European money market rate) contract on 4 January was very successful. Liffe has won 86 per cent of the Euribor market, making it one of the most successful product launches. The total underlying interest in all the Euro money market contracts at the end of February exceeded 2,000 billion euros. Mr Williamson says the success of the Euribor contract shows that "provided we can deliver, people will give us support". A key part of the success was attributed to close contact between Liffe and its customers. "We must never again lose that link," says Mr Williamson. Liffe is already providing its data to 15 other exchanges.

MANAGEMENT STYLE: Mr Williamson says senior management at Liffe have a good combination of talents and skills. Chief executive Hugh Freedberg is said to be used to dealing with difficult situations. John Foyle, deputy chief executive, knows a lot about derivative exchanges around the world and is well respected in the industry.

MOST ADMIRES IN BUSINESS: David Orr, chairman of Unilever. "He is a really good chairman of a large company" says Mr Williamson. Without wishing to sound sycophantic he also mentions Eddie George, Governor of the Bank of England. "His understanding of markets is unmatched among central bank governors."

CITY VERDICT: Large investment banks tend to prefer the transparency of screen trading where they can exercise greater control and trade more efficiently, rather than open outcry trading. If there is to be screen trading, some question the necessity for Liffe's huge building at Canon Bridge in the City of London. There is a view in some investment banks that Liffe is biased towards its local traders and older brokerage firms. As such, it has been slow to react to market developments. "Liffe should be doing its utmost to be the centre," said one trader. The cheaper cost of dealing on Eurex, three quarters that of Liffe, is a major attraction. "It's a sad day for Liffe," said a trader.

A 1930 image of the Karl Albrecht Spiritousen and Lebensmittel shop, Essen. The shop was opened by Karl and Theo Albrecht’s mother; the brothers later founded Aldi
Arts and Entertainment
Standing the test of time: Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd in 'Back to the Future'
filmA cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Arts and Entertainment
Flora Spencer-Longhurst as Lavinia, William Houston as Titus Andronicus and Dyfan Dwyfor as Lucius
theatreThe Shakespeare play that proved too much for more than 100 people
exclusivePunk icon Viv Albertine on Sid Vicious, complacent white men, and why free love led to rape
Arts and Entertainment
Stir crazy: Noel Fielding in 'Luxury Comedy 2: Tales from Painted Hawaii'
comedyAs ‘Luxury Comedy’ returns, Noel Fielding on why mainstream success scares him and what the future holds for 'The Boosh'
Life and Style
Flow chart: Karl Landsteiner discovered blood types in 1900, yet scientists have still not come up with an explanation for their existence
lifeAll of us have one. Yet even now, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Arts and Entertainment
'Weird Al' Yankovic, or Alfred Matthew, at the 2014 Los Angeles Film Festival Screening of
musicHis latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do our experts think he’s missed out?
New Real Madrid signing James Rodríguez with club president Florentino Perez
sportColombian World Cup star completes £63m move to Spain
Hotel Tour d’Auvergne in Paris launches pay-what-you-want
travelIt seems fraught with financial risk, but the policy has its benefits
Arts and Entertainment
booksThe best children's books for this summer
Life and Style
News to me: family events were recorded in the personal columns
techFamily events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped that
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Programme Director - Conduct Risk - London

£850 - £950 per day: Orgtel: Programme Director - Conduct Risk - Banking - £85...

Business Analyst (Agile, SDLC, software)

£45000 - £50000 Per Annum + excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Lt...

Finance Manager - Bank - Leeds - £300/day

£250 - £300 per day + competitive: Orgtel: Finance Manager - Accountant - Bank...

Compliance Officer - CF10, CF11, Compliance Oversight, AML, FX

£100000 - £120000 per annum + BONUS + BENEFITS: Harrington Starr: A leading fi...

Day In a Page

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy': A land of the outright bizarre

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy'

A land of the outright bizarre
What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

‘Weird Al’ Yankovic's latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do The Independent’s experts think he’s missed out?
Can Secret Cinema sell 80,000 'Back to the Future' tickets?

The worst kept secret in cinema

A cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Facebook: The new hatched, matched and dispatched

The new hatched, matched and dispatched

Family events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped the ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages’ announcements
Why do we have blood types?

Are you my type?

All of us have one but probably never wondered why. Yet even now, a century after blood types were discovered, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Honesty box hotels: You decide how much you pay

Honesty box hotels

Five hotels in Paris now allow guests to pay only what they think their stay was worth. It seems fraught with financial risk, but the honesty policy has its benefit
Commonwealth Games 2014: Why weight of pressure rests easy on Michael Jamieson’s shoulders

Michael Jamieson: Why weight of pressure rests easy on his shoulders

The Scottish swimmer is ready for ‘the biggest race of my life’ at the Commonwealth Games
Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

The 'scroungers’ fight back

The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

Fireballs in space

Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
A Bible for billionaires

A Bible for billionaires

Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

Paranoid parenting is on the rise

And our children are suffering because of it
For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

Magna Carta Island goes on sale

Yours for a cool £4m
Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn