Toomre Capital Markets LLC

Real-Time Capital Markets -- Analytics, Visualization, Event Processing, and Intelligence

MIT

2009 TCM Transition

As Toomre Capital Markets LLC ("TCM") starts the fourth quarter of 2009, we are cognizant that our consulting business is once again in transition. As it is sometimes said, as one door closes, another door opens. We are just not quite sure which door (professionally at least) might be opening.

For much of the past two years during the on-going credit crunch, the TCM staff has been working extensively with a major participant in the Life Settlements sector. We have used various pieces of the MATLAB mathematical modeling language together with Microsoft SQL Server relational data bases and ActiveX technology to create the calculation code for their customized portfolio management application. The resulting code is rather advanced.

This MATLAB-compiled code enables TCM's client to quickly price various individual life insurance policies and to help identify the risk/rewards in simultaneously managing several portfolios of such investments. It has moved the client away from the risks and confusion of large complicated Excel spreadsheets and onto a modern web-based platform. Alas, though, the heavy development work for that particular project is drawing to an end and we are now in the acceptance testing phase. There is unlikely to be any further enhancement work necessary until at least the code has been used in production for some time period.

Partly as a result, TCM has wondered where we should turn our attention to next. Should we turn to focusing our efforts on developing similar types of MATLAB-based code for other financial clients? Certainly there are many financial firms that enjoy the convenience and ease of data input into Excel spreadsheets. With time, though, many of these same spreadsheets become large, many times unwieldy and often contain inaccurate cell references in some of their formulae.

Depending upon the complexity of what information the spreadsheet is attempting to model, MATLAB often is an effective tool for tying together: the ease of that spreadsheet bring to data input and manipulation; easy access to data stored elsewhere in relational data bases; mathematical calculation of arrays (including good routines for various types of optimization); integration with tried and time tested C/C++ calculation libraries; and excellent visualization opportunities for understanding the results.

TCM is quite skilled in doing this advanced MATLAB development and integration work. (The reader might note the many posting on the TCM website about the term MATLAB and then appreciate why we receive so many visitors each day looking for information on such terms as ActiveX, Excel and MATLAB together.)

As we contemplated during the last few weeks which way to turn, Mathworks (the maker of the MATLAB product) contacted TCM about possibly working with a hedge of hedge funds that needed help with integrating some of their existing MATLAB models with their client-facing website. Could we help? It now appears that very shortly we will be starting an initial project focused on foreign-exchange investments.

Bank of America Funds MIT's Center for Future Banking

According to the Triangle Business Journal, Bank of America has agreed to spend as much as $25 million over the next five years in a research partnership with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology ("M.I.T."). The Charlotte North Carolina-based BofA said it will "team with MIT's Media Laboratory to create the Center for Future Banking, which will be located on MIT's campus and seek to transform the ways banking is conducted. Researchers will address issues related to information technology, financial planning and customer service."

"Bank of America is investing in the future of banking," Anne Finucane, chief marketing officer at BofA, said in a statement "Working with the MIT Media Lab provides a unique opportunity to grow banking in innovative ways that respond to evolving customer behavior, preferences, and trends."

As a graduate of MIT professionally focused on financial services and technology, Lars Toomre is always intrigued by the amazing research that results from the M.I.T. academic experience and its research labs. It certainly will be interesting over the coming months to see what results from this research effort in the Media Lab.