The Communications Parallels in Gaming and Trading

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Why Traders Default to Voice Communications When It Matters Most? 

Picture the scene – your team of elite gamers are parachuting towards the hot zone. The objectives are pre-planned, but then something goes wrong; under heavy fire with battlefield parameters changing fast, rapid-fire voice communication allows your team to create and implement a new battle plan in a matter of seconds and still achieve their goal. Without voice, it’s all over, fast.    

So, what do gaming and trading have in common? While the scenario described above may seem dramatic, the experience has parallels with what can happen in the financial markets.  

Markets are driven by an ever-changing flow of news, rumours and sentiment, as much or more than fundamental analysis and asset allocation strategies. So being nimble and able to communicate with your trading team and other market participants to change and execute a new battle plan on the fly can make all the difference. 

Moreover, when the global pandemic flipped the world on its’ head last March, trading floors emptied, and financial markets were kept humming by traders who were connecting and communicating from home.  

Overcoming the new challenges to quick and efficient communications became an urgent priority for the IT professionals who design and support the communications infrastructure and tools. 

For anyone that grew up in the early days of gaming (my experience dates back to Sinclair ZX Spectrum), interacting with the technology was done using text commands. So, when voice chat was born in the 1990s (as VoIP software became available). Voice was a game-changer for gaming. Communicating with fellow gamers in real-time opened up all sorts of possibilities because it was dynamic.  

While in comparison financial trading floors in the 2000’s were still struggling to adjust to new voice IP technology. 

Why Voice Matters?  

From the moment we are born, and before we can even use language, we make connections based on what we hear. A mother’s soothing voice leads to an emotion of comfort. Loud or unexpected noises may lead to surprise or fear. Unlike other forms of communication, voice has no substitute in enabling humans to develop tonal understanding.   

Despite the best efforts of GenZ and the evolving technology, emojis and Tone Indicators(yes, these are a thing) or interpreting any text-based message for the first time proves that when time is crucial, and clarity is vital, voice has no equal. 

While I do acknowledge not all Traders are Gamers, the mindset to win at all costs and the need for real-time awareness are true of both these groups. Therefore, representing the trading floor as a virtual battlefield is not all that farfetched. The traders on the frontlines crunch the market data and monitoring the news to make split-second decisions to secure the best result for their clients and business.  

These parallels and can also be seen in more innovative technology. For example, Banks have even experimented with game-based virtual reality technology to recreate the trading floor environment for their traders at home. 

But while the future takes shape, a low latency voice platform that can support distributed trading teams, allowing traders to communicate in real-time is critical. Just like in a first-person shooter, when changes arise, you can react, pivot, and communicate.    

Without those voice connections, the communication agility required to plan and execute successful trades in volatile markets is a bridge too far. 

Key Takeaways  

  • Situational Awareness– Voice helps you understand what other parties are doing, thinking and planning to reach a group goal  
  • Reaction– Use voice to react and pivot to changing market circumstances  
  • Tonal– The ability to express emotions from the tone of voice commands  
  • Instant– Voice is real-time, so low latency is essential to get the message delivered first time, every time.  
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