Company Quick10K Filing
International Card Establishment
Price92.40 EPS4
Shares566 P/E25
MCap52,298 P/FCF28
Net Debt5,836 EBIT2,719
TEV58,134 TEV/EBIT21
TTM 2019-09-30, in MM, except price, ratios
10-K 2020-12-31 Filed 2021-02-04
10-Q 2020-09-30 Filed 2020-10-29
10-Q 2020-06-30 Filed 2020-07-30
10-Q 2020-03-31 Filed 2020-04-30
10-K 2019-12-31 Filed 2020-02-06
10-Q 2019-09-30 Filed 2019-10-31
10-Q 2019-06-30 Filed 2019-08-01
10-Q 2019-03-31 Filed 2019-05-02
10-K 2018-12-31 Filed 2019-02-07
10-Q 2018-09-30 Filed 2018-10-31
10-Q 2018-06-30 Filed 2018-08-02
10-Q 2018-03-31 Filed 2018-05-03
10-K 2017-12-31 Filed 2018-02-07
10-Q 2017-09-30 Filed 2017-11-02
10-Q 2017-06-30 Filed 2017-08-03
10-Q 2017-03-31 Filed 2017-05-03
10-K 2016-12-31 Filed 2017-02-07
10-Q 2016-09-30 Filed 2016-11-01
10-Q 2016-06-30 Filed 2016-08-03
10-Q 2016-03-31 Filed 2016-05-04
10-K 2015-12-31 Filed 2016-02-04
10-Q 2015-09-30 Filed 2015-10-28
10-Q 2015-06-30 Filed 2015-08-05
10-Q 2015-03-31 Filed 2015-05-05
10-K 2014-12-31 Filed 2015-02-05
10-Q 2014-09-30 Filed 2014-11-04
10-Q 2014-06-30 Filed 2014-08-07
10-Q 2014-03-31 Filed 2014-05-08
10-K 2013-12-31 Filed 2014-02-14
10-Q 2013-09-30 Filed 2013-11-05
10-Q 2013-06-30 Filed 2013-08-07
8-K 2020-11-04
8-K 2020-10-29
8-K 2020-09-09
8-K 2020-09-08
8-K 2020-09-04
8-K 2020-08-21
8-K 2020-08-20
8-K 2020-08-14
8-K 2020-08-13
8-K 2020-08-06
8-K 2020-08-06
8-K 2020-07-30
8-K 2020-05-26
8-K 2020-05-15
8-K 2020-04-30
8-K 2020-02-06
8-K 2020-01-21
8-K 2019-10-30
8-K 2019-08-01
8-K 2019-05-17
8-K 2019-05-02
8-K 2019-05-01
8-K 2019-02-07
8-K 2018-10-31
8-K 2018-08-13
8-K 2018-08-09
8-K 2018-08-03
8-K 2018-08-02
8-K 2018-05-28
8-K 2018-05-21
8-K 2018-05-18
8-K 2018-05-03
8-K 2018-02-05

ICE 10K Annual Report

Part I
Item 1. Business
Item 1(A). Risk Factors
Item 1 (B). Unresolved Staff Comments
Item 2. Properties
Item 3. Legal Proceedings
Item 4. Mine Safety Disclosures
Part II
Item 5. Market for Registrant's Common Equity, Related Stockholder Matters and Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities
Item 6. Selected Financial Data
Item 7. Management's Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations
Item 7 (A). Quantitative and Qualitative Disclosures About Market Risk
Item 8. Financial Statements and Supplementary Data
Item 9. Changes in and Disagreements with Accountants on Accounting and Financial Disclosure
Item 9 (A). Controls and Procedures
Item 9 (B). Other Information
Part III
Item 10. Directors, Executive Officers and Corporate Governance
Item 11. Executive Compensation
Item 12. Security Ownership of Certain Beneficial Owners and Management and Related Stockholder Matters
Item 13. Certain Relationships and Related Transactions, and Director Independence
Item 14. Principal Accountant Fees and Services
Part IV
Item 15. Exhibits and Financial Statement Schedules
Item 16. Form 10 - K Summary
EX-4.26 ice20201231ex426.htm
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EX-31.2 ice20201231ex312.htm
EX-32.1 ice20201231ex321.htm
EX-32.2 ice20201231ex322.htm

International Card Establishment Earnings 2020-12-31

Balance SheetIncome StatementCash Flow
1008060402002012201420172020
Assets, Equity
2.11.71.30.80.40.02012201420172020
Rev, G Profit, Net Income
3.72.10.5-1.0-2.6-4.22012201420172020
Ops, Inv, Fin

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UNITED STATES SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION
Washington, D.C. 20549
FORM 10-K
(Mark One)
ANNUAL REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934
For the fiscal year ended December 31, 2020
Or
TRANSITION REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d)
OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934
For the transition period from                 to
Commission File Number 001-36198
INTERCONTINENTAL EXCHANGE, INC.
(Exact name of registrant as specified in its charter)
Delaware46-2286804
(State or other jurisdiction of
incorporation or organization)
(IRS Employer
Identification Number)
5660 New Northside Drive, 30328
Atlanta, Georgia (Zip Code)
(Address of principal executive offices)
(770) 857-4700
Registrant’s telephone number, including area code
Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(b) of the Act:  
Title of Each ClassTrading Symbol(s)Name of Each Exchange on Which Registered
Common Stock, $0.01 par value per shareICENew York Stock Exchange
Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(g) of the Act:
None
Indicate by check mark if the registrant is a well-known seasoned issuer, as defined in Rule 405 of the Securities Act.     Yes      No  
Indicate by check mark if the registrant is not required to file reports pursuant to Section 13 or Section 15(d) of the Act.   Yes      No   
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant: (1) has filed all reports required to be filed by Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to file such reports); and (2) has been subject to such filing requirements for the past 90 days.    Yes      No  
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has submitted electronically every Interactive Data File required to be submitted pursuant to Rule 405 of Regulation S-T (§232.405 of this chapter) during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to submit such files).  Yes   No
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a large accelerated filer, an accelerated filer, a non-accelerated filer, a smaller reporting company, or an emerging growth company. See the definitions of “large accelerated filer,” “accelerated filer,” “smaller reporting company” and "emerging growth company" in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act. Yes   No
Large accelerated filer
Accelerated filer
Non-accelerated filer
Smaller reporting company  
Emerging growth company



If an emerging growth company, indicate by check mark if the registrant has elected not to use the extended transition period for complying with any new or revised financial accounting standards provided pursuant to Section 13(a) of the Exchange Act.       ☐   
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has filed a report on and attestation to its management’s assessment of the effectiveness of its internal control over financial reporting under Section 404(b) of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (15 U.S.C. 7262(b)) by the registered public accounting firm that prepared or issued its audit report.
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a shell company (as defined in Rule 12b-2 of the Act).    Yes      No  
The aggregate market value of the registrant’s voting and non-voting common equity held by non-affiliates computed by reference to the price at which the common equity was last sold as of the last business day of the registrant’s most recently completed second fiscal quarter was $49,332,813,869.
As of February 1, 2021, the number of shares of the registrant’s Common Stock outstanding was 561,706,616 shares.
DOCUMENTS INCORPORATED BY REFERENCE
Certain information contained in the registrant’s Proxy Statement for the 2021 Annual Meeting of Stockholders is incorporated herein by reference in Part III of this Annual Report on Form 10-K. The Proxy Statement will be filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission within 120 days after the end of the registrant’s fiscal year to which this report relates.





 
 
Intercontinental Exchange, Inc.
ANNUAL REPORT ON FORM 10-K
For the Fiscal Year Ended December 31, 2020
TABLE OF CONTENTS
 
 
Item
Number
Page
Number
PART I
1.
1(A).
1(B).
2.
3.
4.
PART II
5.
6.
7.
7(A).
8.
9.
9(A).
9(B).
PART III
10.
11.
12.
13.
14.
PART IV
15.
16.




PART I
In this Annual Report on Form 10-K, or Annual Report, and unless otherwise indicated, the terms “Intercontinental Exchange,” “ICE,” “we,” “us,” “our,” “our company,” and “our business” refer to Intercontinental Exchange, Inc., together with its consolidated subsidiaries. References to “ICE products” mean products listed on one or more of our markets. All references to “options” or “options contracts” in the context of our futures products refer to options on futures contracts. Solely for convenience, references in this Annual Report to any trademarks, service marks and trade names owned by ICE are listed without the ®, ™ and © symbols, but we will assert, to the fullest extent under applicable law, our rights to these trademarks, service marks and trade names. 
We also include references to third-party trademarks, trade names and service marks in this Annual Report. Except as otherwise expressly noted, our use or display of any such trademarks, trade names or service marks is not an endorsement or sponsorship and does not indicate any relationship between us and the parties that own such marks and names.
The following discussion should be read in conjunction with our consolidated financial statements and related notes included elsewhere in this Annual Report. Due to rounding, figures in tables may not sum exactly.
Forward-Looking Statements
This Annual Report, including the sections entitled “Business,” “Legal Proceedings,” “Risk Factors” and “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations,” contains “forward-looking statements” as defined in the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Any statements contained herein that are not statements of historical fact may be forward-looking statements.
These forward-looking statements relate to future events or our future financial performance and are based on our present beliefs and assumptions, as well as the information currently available to us. They involve known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors that may cause our results, levels of activity, performance, cash flows, financial position or achievements to differ materially from those expressed or implied by these statements.
Forward-looking statements may be introduced by or contain terminology such as “may,” “will,” “should,” “could,” “would,” “targets,” “goal,” “expect,” “intend,” “plan,” “anticipate,” “believe,” “estimate,” “predict,” “potential,” “continue,” or the antonyms of these terms or other comparable terminology. Although we believe that the expectations reflected in the forward-looking statements are reasonable, we cannot guarantee future results, levels of activity, performance, cash flows, financial position or achievements. Accordingly, we caution you not to place undue reliance on any forward-looking statements we may make.
Factors that may affect our performance and the accuracy of any forward-looking statements include, but are not limited to, those listed below:
conditions in global financial markets and domestic and international economic and social conditions, political uncertainty and discord;
the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on our business, results of operations and financial condition as well as the broader business environment;
the impact of the introduction of or any changes in laws, regulations, rules or government policies with respect to financial markets, climate change, increased regulatory scrutiny or enforcement actions and our ability to comply with these requirements;
volatility in commodity prices, equity prices and price volatility of financial benchmarks and instruments such as interest rates, credit spreads, equity indices, foreign exchange rates, and mortgage origination and refinancing trends;
the business environment in which we operate and trends in our industry, including trading volumes, prevalence of clearing, demand for data services, mortgage lending activity, fees, changing regulations, competition and consolidation;
our ability to minimize the risks associated with operating clearing houses in multiple jurisdictions;
our exchanges’ and clearing houses' compliance with their respective regulatory and oversight responsibilities;
the resilience of our electronic platforms and soundness of our business continuity and disaster recovery plans;
our ability to execute our growth strategy, identify and effectively pursue, implement and integrate acquisitions and strategic alliances and realize the synergies and benefits of such transactions within the expected time frame;
the performance and reliability of our trading, clearing and mortgage technologies and those of third-party service providers;
our ability to keep pace with technological developments and client preferences;
our ability to ensure that the technology we utilize is not vulnerable to cyberattacks, hacking and other cybersecurity risks or other disruptive events or to minimize the impact of any such events;
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our ability to keep information and data relating to the customers of the users of the software and services provided by our ICE Mortgage Technology business confidential;
our ability to identify trends and adjust our business to benefit from such trends, including trends in the United States, or U.S., mortgage industry such as interest rates, new home purchases, refinancing activity, and home builder and buyer sentiment, among others;
our ability to evolve our benchmarks and indices in a manner that maintains or enhances their reliability and relevance;
the accuracy of our cost and other financial estimates and our belief that cash flows from operations will be sufficient to service our debt and to fund our operational and capital expenditure needs;
our ability to incur additional debt and pay off our existing debt in a timely manner;
our ability to maintain existing market participants and data and mortgage technology customers, and to attract new ones;
our ability to offer additional products and services, leverage our risk management capabilities and enhance our technology in a timely and cost-effective fashion;
our ability to attract and retain key talent;
our ability to protect our intellectual property rights and to operate our business without violating the intellectual property rights of others;
potential adverse results of threatened or pending litigation and regulatory actions and proceedings;
our ability to realize the expected benefits of our acquisition of Ellie Mae, Inc., or Ellie Mae, and our majority interest in Bakkt Holdings, LLC, or together with its subsidiaries, Bakkt, which could result in additional unanticipated costs and risks; and
our ability to detect illegal activity such as fraud, money laundering, tax evasion and ransomware scams through digital currency transactions that are easily exploited.
These risks and other factors include, among others, those set forth in Item 1(A) under the caption “Risk Factors” and elsewhere in this Annual Report, as well as in other filings we make with the Securities and Exchange Commission, or SEC. Due to the uncertain nature of these factors, management cannot assess the impact of each factor on the business or the extent to which any factor, or combination of factors, may cause actual results to differ materially from those contained in any forward-looking statements.
Any forward-looking statement speaks only as of the date on which such statement is made, and we undertake no obligation to update any of these statements to reflect events or circumstances occurring after the date of this Annual Report. New factors may emerge and it is not possible to predict all factors that may affect our business and prospects.


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ITEM 1. BUSINESS
Introduction
We are a provider of marketplace infrastructure, data services and technology solutions to a broad range of customers including financial institutions, corporations and government entities. These products, which span major asset classes including futures, equities, fixed income and U.S. residential mortgages, provide our customers with access to mission critical workflow tools that are designed to increase asset class transparency and workflow efficiency. While we report our results in three reportable business segments, we operate as one business, leveraging the collective expertise, particularly in data services and technology, that exists across our platforms to inform and enhance our operations.
In our Exchanges segment, we operate regulated marketplaces for the listing, trading and clearing of a broad array of derivatives contracts and financial securities.
In our Fixed Income and Data Services segment, we provide fixed income pricing, reference data, indices and execution services as well as global credit default swaps, or CDS, clearing and multi-asset class data delivery solutions.
In our Mortgage Technology segment, we provide an end-to-end technology platform that offers customers comprehensive, digital workflow tools that aim to address the inefficiencies that exist in the U.S. residential mortgage market.
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Our History
In 2000, ICE was founded with the idea of transforming energy markets by creating a network that removed barriers and provided greater transparency, efficiency and access. By staying close to our customers, we have expanded into new asset classes and services, while retaining a core mission of reducing friction in markets, bringing efficiency to our customers’ workflows and, ultimately, connecting our customers to opportunity.
Today, we are a Fortune 500 company, providing our customers with an array of marketplace infrastructure, data services and technology solutions that span a diverse set of asset classes.


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Our Business Segments
Our business is conducted through three reportable business segments:
Exchanges;
Fixed Income and Data Services; and
Mortgage Technology.
The majority of our identifiable assets are located in the U.S. and the United Kingdom, or U.K. For a summary of our revenues, net assets and net property and equipment by geographic region, see Note 18 to our consolidated financial statements included in this Annual Report.
Exchanges Segment
We operate regulated marketplaces for the listing, trading and clearing of a broad array of derivatives contracts and financial securities, such as commodities, interest rates, foreign exchange and equities as well as corporate and exchange-traded funds, or ETFs. We operate multiple trading venues, including 12 regulated exchanges and six clearing houses, which are strategically positioned in major market centers around the world, including the U.S., U.K., European Union, or EU, Canada and Singapore.
Our ICE Exchanges segment includes the New York Stock Exchange and other registered securities exchanges, or collectively, the NYSE, our global futures network, trading and listings revenue, and various data and connectivity services that are directly related to those exchange platforms. Revenues reflect a mix of both diversified transaction revenues and recurring data and listings revenues. Our Exchanges segment generated revenues, less transaction-based expenses of $3.6 billion and accounted for 60% of our consolidated revenues, less transaction-based expenses in 2020. Our Exchanges business can experience moderate seasonal fluctuations, although such seasonal impacts have been somewhat muted in periods of high volume trading. Key asset classes include:
Energy Futures and Options: We offer a range of futures and options products that are designed to enable our customers to manage their risk across global energy markets. Our flagship Brent crude oil contract serves as the cornerstone of a global oil network that today includes over 600 related crude and refined oil products including locational and refined spreads. In addition, as natural gas and Liquefied Natural Gas, or LNG, continue to globalize, we offer the broadest footprint of regional and global natural gas benchmarks, which span North America, Europe and Asia. Our leading environmental and power markets round out our diverse global energy network. For nearly two decades, our environmental markets have provided customers that are increasingly subject to carbon cap and trade programs and renewable fuel standards the risk management tools to meet those obligations and to manage risk related to climate change.
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Agricultural & Metals Futures and Options: We offer futures and options on the leading global soft commodity markets including coffee, cocoa, cotton and sugar. Our benchmark contracts offer the most globally relevant price markers for these agricultural markets and provide our customers with the tools to manage price and counterparty risk and facilitate price discovery.

Financial Futures and Options: We offer a diverse suite of equity futures and options contracts based on our own indices as well as those created by MSCI® and FTSE®. These contracts range from established global benchmarks, such as the MSCI® Emerging Market Index, to newer products, such as MSCI®’s suite of Environmental, Social and Governance, or ESG, indices and the NYSE FAANG+ Index. Our global interest rate complex spans geographies, currencies and tenors, providing participants around the world with effective tools to manage risk in a capital efficient manner. Key products include: Short Sterling, Euribor, Gilts, Sterling Overnight Index Average, or SONIA, and Secured Overnight Financing Rates, or SOFR, among others.

Cash Equities and Equity Options: We offer securities trading services through our five registered securities exchanges, including the NYSE. Our securities exchanges are leading providers of transparent, efficient, and high quality markets for the securities issued by large and small companies, ETFs and equity options. These markets serve issuers, investors and other market participants across five cash equity and two options markets.

Listings: As the global leader in listings, the NYSE has been the venue of choice for innovators, visionaries and leaders for over 225 years. At the heart of the NYSE offering is our unique hybrid market model that combines leading technology with an accountable market maker to provide human judgment, an unmatched community of the world’s greatest companies and premium brand visibility. With over 70% of S&P 500 companies listed on the NYSE as of December 31, 2020, we are the leading listing venue across a range of sectors from technology and healthcare, to financials and energy. In addition to corporate listings, the NYSE is the global leader in ETF listings with 75%, or roughly $4 trillion, of ETF assets under management, or AUM, as of December 31, 2020. Revenues from listing fees are largely recurring in nature.

Data and Connectivity Services: Our exchanges' trade execution services create trading data. Our exchange data services include, among other offerings, proprietary real-time and historical pricing data, as well as order book and transaction information related to our global futures markets and the NYSE exchanges. In addition, we receive a share of revenue from the sale of consolidated U.S. equity market data by the National Market System Plans, or NMS Plans.
Separately, we also provide connectivity services directly related to our futures, cash equity and options exchanges and clearing houses. Revenues from data and connectivity services fees are largely recurring in nature.

OTC and Other: Our over-the-counter, or OTC, markets include bilateral energy markets that offer electronic trading of contracts based on physically-settled natural gas, power and refined oil contracts. Our other revenues primarily include interest income on certain clearing margin deposits related to our futures business, as well as revenue related to our digital asset initiative, Bakkt.

We operate six clearing houses, each of which acts as a central counterparty, or CCP, that, for its clearing members, becomes the buyer to every seller and the seller to every buyer. Through this CCP function, our clearing houses provide financial security for each transaction, for the duration of the position, by limiting counterparty credit risk. Our clearing houses are responsible for providing clearing services to each of our futures exchanges and certain of our clearing houses clear contracts traded outside of our execution venues.

Mechanisms have been created, called guaranty funds, to provide partial protection in the event of a clearing member default. With the exception of ICE NGX Canada Inc., or ICE NGX, each of the ICE Clearing Houses requires that each clearing member make deposits into a guaranty fund maintained by the relevant ICE Clearing House. In addition, we have contributed $408 million of our own cash to the guaranty funds included in the table below, and such amounts are at risk and could be used in the event of a clearing member default. In September 2019, we also added a layer of insurance to our clearing member default protection. The default insurance has a three-year term that commenced on September 17, 2019, for the following clearing houses in the following amounts: ICE Clear Credit - $50 million; ICE Clear Europe - $75 million; and, ICE Clear US - $25 million. In addition, and included in the table below, ICE NGX maintains a guaranty fund of $100 million funded by a letter of credit issued by a major Canadian bank. If an ICE NGX clearing member defaults and its collateral is insufficient, the shortfall should be covered by a draw down on the letter of credit following which ICE NGX would file a claim under the default insurance. Under the default insurance policy, ICE NGX is responsible for the first $15 million and then can recover additional losses up to $100 million.
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Our contributions to each clearing house as of December 31, 2020 are listed below and our clearing houses are referred to herein collectively as “the ICE Clearing Houses”:
Clearing HouseProducts ClearedLocationExchange where ExecutedReporting SegmentICE's Guaranty Fund Contribution
ICE Clear Europe Energy, agricultural, interest rates and equity index futures and options contracts and OTC European CDS instrumentsU.K.ICE Futures Europe, ICE Futures U.S., ICE Endex, and third-party venuesExchanges$312 million
ICE Clear U.S.Agricultural, metals and foreign exchange, or FX, index futures and options contracts, equity futures contracts and digital assets futures contractsU.S.ICE Futures U.S.Exchanges
$128 million1
ICE Clear Credit2
OTC North American, European, Asian-Pacific and Emerging Market CDS instrumentsU.S.Creditex and third-party venuesFixed Income and Data Services$100 million
ICE Clear NetherlandsDerivatives on equities and equity indices traded on regulated marketsThe NetherlandsICE EndexExchanges$2 million
ICE Clear SingaporeEnergy, metals and financial futures products and digital assets futures contractsSingaporeICE Futures SingaporeExchanges$1 million
ICE NGXPhysical North American natural gas, electricity and oil futuresCanadaICE NGXExchanges$115 million
1 Of our total contribution to ICE Clear U.S. above, $35 million is solely applicable to any losses associated with a default in digital asset contracts.
2 Although ICE Clear Credit is included in the Fixed Income and Data Services reporting segment, it is included in the table as a part of our suite of global clearing houses.
Fixed Income and Data Services Segment
Our Fixed Income and Data Services segment includes our fixed income data and analytics offerings, fixed income execution, or ICE Bonds, CDS clearing and other multi-asset class data and network services. Our leading fixed income pricing and reference data offerings serve as the foundation for a broader fixed income network that provides our customers solutions that span the full workflow including pre- and post-trade analytics, a range of execution protocols and indices. In addition, our multi-asset class connectivity, feeds and desktop solutions, which comprise our Other Data and Network Services business leverage a common sales force, which can enhance cross-selling opportunities across the Fixed Income and Data Services segment. The Fixed Income and Data Services segment generated revenues of $1.8 billion in 2020 and accounted for 30% of our consolidated revenues, less transaction-based expenses.
Fixed Income Data and Analytics: We are a leading provider of evaluated end-of-day and real-time pricing services on roughly three million fixed income securities spanning approximately 151 countries and 73 currencies including sovereign, corporate and municipal bonds, mortgage and asset-backed securities as well as leveraged loans. Our reference data offering complements our evaluated pricing by providing our clients a broad range of descriptive information, covering millions of financial instruments that, when coupled with our pricing services, act as the foundation for our leading fixed income index complex, ICE Data Indices, LLC, or ICE Data Indices. We also offer a range of fixed income analytics and other workflow solutions including: best execution services, liquidity indicators, fixed income portfolio analytics and our ETF Hub. Our fixed income customers rely on our data, indices and analytics to inform pre-trade decision making, support post-trade regulatory and compliance needs and improve operational efficiency. In addition, our newer offerings in this area include a variety of ESG data and analytics offerings. Fixed Income Data and Analytics revenues are largely recurring in nature.
Fixed Income Execution: Alongside our leading Fixed Income Data and Analytics offerings, ICE Bonds is focused on providing tools to improve efficiency in customers' workflows across fixed income markets. ICE Bonds provides customers with electronic markets that support multiple fixed income trading protocols including: click-to-trade, request for quotation, or RFQ, and auctions, including portfolio auctions/trading.
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CDS Clearing: As of December 30, 2020, we provide clearing services to over 90% of the global CDS market, as measured by CDS gross notional cleared. ICE Clear Credit currently supports Single Names CDS on over 520 reference entities and 160 Index CDS instruments. Revenues also include interest income on certain clearing margin deposits related to our CDS clearing business.
Other Data and Network Services: Revenues include those related to the ICE Global Network and our consolidated feeds business, as well as desktops and other multi-asset class analytics. The ICE Global Network offers highly secure, low latency connectivity solutions to reach over 150 trading venues and over 750 data sources. Our consolidated feeds business provides data from a broad array of trading venues and news feeds through a common application programming interface, or API. Our Desktops and Tools support commodity and energy traders, risk managers, financial advisors, wealth managers and retail traders, and includes a robust instant messaging, or IM, system that protects the privacy of over 100,000 users, while also enabling greater collaboration. Other Data and Network Service revenues are largely recurring in nature.
Mortgage Technology Segment
Over the last four years, ICE has constructed an end-to-end network aimed at identifying and solving the inefficiencies that exist in the U.S. residential mortgage market. From application through closing and the secondary market, our network is intended to connect the key stakeholders across the mortgage origination workflow and provide our customers with data services and technology that deliver greater transparency and enable significant customer efficiency gains. Our Mortgage Technology segment generated revenues of $595 million in 2020 and accounted for 10% of our consolidated revenues, less transaction-based expenses.
Origination Technology: Revenues include those related to our Encompass offering, our proprietary and comprehensive mortgage origination platform, which served nearly 45% of all closed residential mortgage loans in the U.S. in 2019, based on the most recent Home Mortgage Disclosure Act data. Our origination technology acts as a system of record for mortgage transactions, automating the gathering, reviewing, and verifying of mortgage-related information and enabling automated enforcement of rules and business practices designed to ensure that each completed loan transaction is of the highest quality and adheres to secondary market standards. Revenue from Origination Technology is based on recurring Software as a Service, or SaaS, subscription fees, with an additive “Success-Based Pricing” fee as lenders exceed the number of loans closed that is included with their monthly base subscription.
Network and Closing Solutions: Our network is a leading marketplace that provides customers connectivity to the mortgage supply chain and facilitates the secure exchange of information between our customers and a broad ecosystem of our own proprietary offerings and third-party service providers, in addition to lenders and investors that are critical to consummating the millions of loan transactions that occur on our origination network each year. Key services include: credit, title, appraisal, flood, compliance, mortgage insurance and fraud detection, among others. In addition, our Encompass Investor Connect offering allows loan originators to electronically submit loan files to investors, providing investors with electronic access to the large number of mortgage originators that rely on our origination technology helping to reduce frictions between buyers and sellers of mortgage loans. Our closing network uniquely connects key participants, such as lenders, title and settlement agents and individual county recorders together, in order to digitize the traditionally manual and paper-based closing and recording process. Our closing solutions also include digital services related to the Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc., or MERS, eRegistry, which are intended to help to drive process efficiencies for lenders, investors and servicers, while enabling a better consumer experience for borrowers, as we seek to build more of a straight-forward closing experience. Revenues from Network and Closing Solutions are based largely on the number of applications and closed loans that utilize the various services.
Data and Analytics: Revenues include those related to ICE Mortgage Technology’s Automation, Intelligence, Quality, or AIQ offering, which applies machine learning and artificial intelligence, or AI, to the entire loan origination process, offering customers greater efficiency by streamlining data collection and validation through our automated document recognition and data extraction capabilities. AIQ also enables a series of AI-driven origination tasks and real-time risk analysis that are intended to further improve customer workflow efficiency. AIQ aims to help investors make loan purchases faster, by reducing operational costs and lowering buy-back risk through the application of AI to the purchase review process. AIQ revenues can be both recurring and transaction-based in nature. In addition, ICE Mortgage Technology’s data offerings include real-time industry and peer benchmarking tools, which provide originators a granular view into the real-time trends of nearly half the U.S. residential mortgage market. We also provide a Data as a Service, or DaaS, offering through private data clouds for lenders to access their own data and origination information. Revenues related to our data products are largely subscription based and recurring in nature.
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Registrations and Other: Our MERS database is the industry’s leading system of record for recording and tracking changes in mortgage servicing rights and beneficial ownership interests of loans secured by U.S. residential real estate. We also offer certain professional services and ancillary products. These revenues are transaction-based.
Product and Services Development
We leverage our customer relationships, global distribution, technology infrastructure and software development capabilities to diversify our products and services. We are continually developing, evaluating and testing new products to better serve our client base. The majority of our product development relates to evaluating new contracts, new data sets or new analytic offerings. New contracts often must be reviewed and approved by relevant regulators. We expect to continue to invest in improving our ICE Global Network and software services to meet the needs of our customers and improve their trading and connectivity experience by reducing latency, improving security and providing the most relevant information and data.
While we primarily develop our products and services internally, we also periodically evaluate and enter into strategic partnerships and licensing arrangements to develop new products and services. We intend to continue to invest to expand our exchanges, fixed income and data services, and mortgage technology offerings to serve the evolving needs of our global customer base.
Technology
Technology is a key component of our business strategy and competitive position and we regard effective execution of our technology initiatives as crucial to our sustainable business operations, market competitiveness, compliance and risk management and overall success. Our technology solutions support our customers' workflows: trading and clearing technology, multi-asset class analytics, risk assessment tools, robust data offerings, mortgage technology, instant messaging capabilities and flexible connectivity and delivery solutions. Where feasible, we design and build our own systems and write our own software programs since we believe that having control over our technology allows us to be more responsive to our customers’ needs, better support the dynamic nature of our business, provide the highest quality technology and deliver relevant, timely and actionable data to the markets and customers we serve.
ICE and NYSE Trading Platforms and Technology: The ICE trading platform supports trading in our cleared futures and options markets as well as our bilateral OTC markets. We also offer voice brokers a facility for submitting block trades for products that are eligible for clearing. Speed, reliability, resilience, capacity and security are critical performance criteria for electronic trading platforms. Connectivity to our trading platform for our markets is available through our web-based front-end applications, as well as multiple independent software vendors, or ISVs, and APIs.
The NYSE electronic trading platform features an open system architecture that allows users to access our system via one of the many front-end trading applications developed by ISVs. For equity options, we offer a hybrid model of electronic and open outcry trading through NYSE American Options and NYSE Arca Options. We developed an integrated trading platform and matching engine known as NYSE Pillar and have migrated all of our cash equity securities markets to this platform. We also expect to migrate our equity options markets to this platform, which have historically operated on distinct platforms. This integrated platform is expected to improve performance and reduce the complexity of operating multiple trading systems.
Clearing Technology: A broad range of trade management and clearing services are offered through the integrated technology infrastructure that serves our clearing houses. The ICE clearing systems encompass a number of integrated systems, including post-trade position management, risk management, settlement and treasury and reporting functions. A core component of our derivatives clearing houses is the risk management of clearing firm members. Our extensive technology and rules-based risk systems provide analytical tools that allow us to determine margin, evaluate credit risk and monitor the trading activities and overall risk of clearing members.
ICE Data Services Technology: ICE Data Services technology uses integrated platforms to capture, store and process information, perform analytics and maintain connectivity solutions using a single configurable data capture mechanism and flexible delivery capability. Together, the platforms are intended to enable real-time processing and delivery of information, accelerate new product development and improve production reliability. Our data and analytics are delivered via real-time messaging, files, web services and other on-demand facilities and state-of-the-art front-ends. In addition, the technology underpinning our ICE Global Network supports scalable bandwidth and a wide variety of connectivity options including fiber, wireless, colocation and hosting.
ICE Mortgage Technology: The ICE Mortgage Technology platform enables lenders to originate, process, fund and deliver residential mortgages using various applications, APIs, data products and other services offered. The platform
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is developed using industry-leading software technologies and third-party services, including hosting with a combination of public cloud and private data centers. The platform is integrated with multiple services necessary for loan origination, such as credit reporting and other services that lenders leverage through our network, which is offered through the platform. The platform includes industry leading information security infrastructure to protect the confidentiality and integrity of our customer data.
Operations
We operate regionally diverse primary and backup data centers and maintain comprehensive business continuity and disaster recovery plans and facilities. These are designed to enable nearly continuous availability of our markets and other services in the event of a business disruption or disaster. We maintain incident and crisis management plans that address responses to disruptive events at any of our locations worldwide.
Cybersecurity
Our business activities rely extensively on technology and software, including the systems used by our business partners, regulators and customers. In addition, our activities involve the use and retention of confidential data and information. These activities make us susceptible to cyberattacks. We employ the following activities, processes and strategies to evaluate, manage and address these risks.

Strategy: We maintain a Cybersecurity Strategy, or CSS, which emphasizes consideration of the nature of our business, ongoing intelligence collection regarding cybersecurity threats, and initiatives to specifically address prominent areas of cybersecurity risk. The CSS outlines the key priorities for our cybersecurity program and the methods by which our Information Security department seeks to accomplish those goals. The CSS is ratified by the Risk Committee of our Board of Directors and when applicable, also by the corporate governance committees of our regulated subsidiaries.
Risk Management: Thematic threats such as sabotage, fraud, and theft of assets or customer data are used to frame our risk management activities. Asset theft often involves organized crime or financially motivated nations staging sophisticated, well-planned campaigns to steal significant cash, cryptocurrency, or equivalent assets. Our thematic threats, along with others, are evaluated by our Board of Directors as well as our Risk Committee, Chief Risk Officer and Chief Information Security Officers, or CISOs. The CSS provides the framework we use for assessing risk, prioritizing testing, identifying remedial actions and validating improvements. The CSS also provides for the deployment of external and internal teams of ethical hackers that operate alongside our traditional vulnerability detection processes.
Information Sharing: We recognize the importance of collaboration and information sharing among private sector firms in the financial services sector, across sectors, and with global public-sector agencies, when appropriate. Our cybersecurity leaders hold positions within the Financial Services Information Sharing and Analysis Center, or FS-ISAC, and the cross-sector Analysis and Resiliency Center, or ARC, in the U.S., the Financial Sector Cyber Collaboration Centre, or FSCCC, in the U.K., and similar organizations across the Europe, Middle East and Africa, or EMEA, and Asia Pacific, or APAC, regions.
Governance and Leadership: Our Information Security department is led by our CISOs, who provide comprehensive reports to a dedicated internal governance committee at least quarterly outlining threat assessment, control performance, and ongoing enhancements. Additionally, cybersecurity matters are reported to and discussed with a cross-subsidiary leadership committee, the Risk Committee of our Board of Directors, and when applicable, subsidiary boards. Our CISOs and other senior security leaders conduct periodic cybersecurity education sessions with our employees and directors. These sessions cover general cybersecurity topics as well as specific details regarding our cybersecurity program.
Third-Party Review: Our Information Security department utilizes extensive penetration testing, vulnerability scanning, ethical hacking and maturity assessment services from global leaders in these practices. The results of these reviews alongside frequent regulatory and customer examinations are assessed, with any resulting mitigation activity assigned and tracked to remediation.
Controls: Our identification of risks and selection of cyber-related controls is performed in the context of the critical financial infrastructure we maintain and operate. Our ongoing threat assessments are intended to identify changes in external events and in our activities, infrastructure and processes that could necessitate reprioritization of risks and controls. The nature of our business activities mandates an emphasis on sabotage and asset theft as primary threats in addition to contemporary themes of data theft. Our focus on these threats leads to an emphasis on network
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security, social engineering controls, behavioral detection of insider threat, and deliberate and rehearsed recovery strategies.
Intellectual Property
We rely on a wide range of intellectual property, both owned and licensed, in connection with the operation of our various businesses. We own the rights to a large number of trademarks, service marks, domain names and trade names in the U.S., Europe and in other parts of the world. We have registered many of our trademarks in the U.S. and in certain other countries. We hold the rights to a number of patents and have made a number of patent applications in the U.S. and other countries. We also own the copyright to a variety of material. Those copyrights, some of which are registered, include software code, printed and online publications, websites, advertisements, educational material, graphic presentations and other literature, both textual and electronic. We attempt to protect our intellectual property rights by relying on trademarks, patents, copyrights, database rights, trade secrets, restrictions on disclosure and other methods.
FTSE® and the FTSE indexes are trademarks and service marks of the London Stock Exchange plc and Financial Times Limited and are used under license. MSCI® and the MSCI indexes are trademarks and service marks of MSCI Inc. or its affiliates and are used under license.
Human Capital Resources
As of December 31, 2020, we had a total of 8,890 employees with 1,587 in New York, 1,268 in Georgia, 1,122 in California, 331 in Massachusetts and 296 in Illinois, as well as 1,628 in India, 794 in the U.K., 474 in continental Europe and a total of 1,390 employees across our other offices around the world. Of our total employee base, less than 1% is subject to collective bargaining agreements, and such relations are considered to be good.
Our culture is driven by a common set of values that provide the foundation for everything we do and we use employee surveys to ensure that we are holding true to these values.
We strive to provide comprehensive packages of competitive compensation and benefits in each market in which we operate, which we believe is important to ensure our employees’ health, well-being and financial security. We review the competitiveness of our compensation and benefits frequently. As an equal opportunity employer, all qualified applicants receive consideration without regard to race, color, religion, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin or ancestry, age, disability or veteran status, or other protected status.
We are committed to diversity on our Board of Directors and in our employee population. We believe that our employee population should reflect the broader communities within which we operate. We hold ourselves accountable via quarterly and annual data reporting to senior management, data reporting to our Board of Directors, and transparency in reporting data to our stakeholders via our annual Corporate Responsibility Report.
Employee development is an important element of our human capital management program. Career development and training opportunities are available throughout our ranks, including both structured course work across a variety of topics and situations, and self-directed learning from a wide array of available resources. Through employee assistance plans, in most of our locations we provide free and discounted counseling services for dealing with traumatic life events, mental health issues and stress, as well as general wellness programs.
We monitor voluntary attrition rates carefully, and over the past three years, our attrition rates have remained lower than the benchmarks in the finance and technology sectors. We review this data frequently and strive to transparently report this information to our stakeholders via our Corporate Responsibility Report.
Financial education is the cornerstone of our corporate giving efforts, which include support for organizations such as Junior Achievement in the U.S. and Young Money in the U.K. We also underwrite a digital financial education curriculum that is delivered at no cost to grade school and high school students in Chicago, Boston, New York and Atlanta. We make additional charitable contributions throughout the communities where we have offices and our employees are encouraged to do the same, including through an annual match to employees for charities of their choice. We raised the annual match to $3,500 per employee in 2020 to encourage and reward our employees' charitable contributions during a difficult year due to COVID-19.
Corporate Citizenship
We strive to create long-term value for our stockholders and meet sustainability goals for all of our stakeholders. That includes maintaining high ethical and business standards, giving back in the communities where we live and work and
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using our unique resources to bring together a network of the world's leading companies to learn from each other and exchange ideas on a broad range of issues, including those related to environmental, social and governance matters.
Much of our approach is driven by the core values that make up our culture. During 2020, we surveyed our employees to assess how we, as a company, were living up to our core values, and are taking actions based on the results of the survey to further our embodiment of our core values.
For additional information, please refer to the Corporate Citizenship section of our website at www.theice.com/esg.
Our Competitive Strengths
We believe we compete on the basis of a number of factors, including:
depth and liquidity of markets;
price transparency;
reliability and speed of trade execution and processing;
technological capabilities and innovation;
breadth of products and services;
proprietary nature of many of our data services offerings;
broad distribution and end-to-end design of our mortgage technology offering;
rate and quality of new product development;
quality and stability of services;
distribution and ease of connectivity;
mid- and back-office service offerings, including differentiated and value-added services;
transaction costs; and
reputation.
We believe that we compete favorably with respect to these factors, and that our deep, liquid markets, technology offerings, breadth of product offerings, new product development, customer relationships and efficient, secure settlement, clearing and other support services distinguish us from our competitors. We believe that to maintain our competitive position, we must continue to develop new and innovative products and services, enhance our technology infrastructure, maintain liquidity and offer competitive pricing.
We believe our key strengths include our:
Diverse Product Offerings: In our Exchanges segment, many of our futures contracts serve as global benchmarks for managing risk relating to exposure to price movements in the underlying products, including financial, energy and agricultural commodities. For example, we are a leading provider of global energy risk management products, ranging from global crude and refined oil products, to an array of global natural gas benchmarks and environmental markets. In our Fixed Income and Data services segment, we offer customer solutions that span their workflows including pre-trade analytics, an array of execution protocols, and post-trade services all designed to improve asset class transparency and bring efficiency to customers' workflows. In our Mortgage Technology segment, we provide customers with a comprehensive loan origination platform and network of third-party service providers, which we believe are critical to the underwriting, processing and closing of U.S. residential mortgage loans.




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(1) Revenue mix based on 2020 revenues and are pro-forma for Ellie Mae. Ellie Mae pro forma revenues for 2020 were $608 million for the period prior to our acquisition of Ellie Mae.
Risk Management Expertise: We offer a range of central clearing and related risk management services to promote the liquidity and security of our markets in jurisdictions around the world and to meet local regulatory and operational needs in key financial market centers. The credit and performance assurance provided by our clearing houses to clearing members is designed to substantially reduce counterparty risk and is a critical component of our exchanges’ identities as reliable and secure marketplaces for global transactions. Our clearing houses are designed to protect the financial integrity of our markets by maintaining strong governance and rules, managing collateral, facilitating payments and collections, enhancing capital efficiency and limiting counterparty credit risk. In our Mortgage Technology segment, our origination technology network acts as a system of record for mortgage transactions, automating the gathering, reviewing, and verifying of mortgage-related information, that in addition to other benefits, is intended to enable automated enforcement of rules and business practices that are designed to adhere to secondary market standards.
Data Services: In our Exchanges segment, we offer proprietary real-time and historical pricing data, as well as order book and transaction information related to our global futures markets and the NYSE. We also provide connectivity services directly related to those exchange platforms and clearing houses. In our Fixed Income and Data Services segment, we are a leading provider of evaluated end-of-day and real-time pricing services on roughly three million fixed income securities spanning approximately 151 countries and 73 currencies including sovereign, corporate and municipal bonds, mortgage and asset-backed securities, as well as leveraged loans. Our reference data offering complements our evaluated pricing by providing our clients with a broad range of descriptive information, covering millions of financial instruments that, when coupled with our pricing services, act as the foundation for our leading fixed income index complex. Across all three of our segments and our various networks, our data services aim to address the rising demand for independent, real-time information, which is being driven by regulation, market fragmentation and competition, increasing technology and data demands, as well as passive investing and indexation. We also believe our data services are uniquely relevant to our clients’ business operations and provide tools and services that enable greater workflow efficiency and, regardless of market conditions are relied upon to serve the need for continuous information and analysis.
Broad Distribution: We operate multiple trading venues, including 12 regulated exchanges, as well as six clearing houses, which are strategically-positioned in major market centers around the world, including the U.S., U.K., EU, Canada and Singapore. Our ICE Global Network provides connectivity to over 150 trading venues and data from over 750 data sources, including ICE-operated markets and data services. Through our fixed income execution, data and analytics offerings, we serve over 5,000 customers across global fixed income markets. At ICE Mortgage Technology, we have at least one product relationship with nearly every key industry participant from loan originators to settlement agents and local jurisdictions within the U.S., which represent over 85% of the U.S. population.
World Class Technology: Our proprietary systems are built using state-of-the-art technology and are designed to support our customers' workflows across the networks we operate. We employ a significant number of employees in
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technology-related activities, including product management, system architecture, software development, network engineering, server maintenance and continuity, cybersecurity, system and data performance, systems analysis, quality assurance, database administration and customer technical support. Speed, reliability, resilience, capacity and security are critical performance criteria for our electronic networks. Connectivity to all of our platforms is available through our web-based front-end application, as well as multiple ISVs and APIs.
Competitors
The markets in which we operate are highly competitive. We face competition in all aspects of our business from a number of different enterprises, both domestic and international, including traditional exchanges, electronic trading platforms, investment banks, data vendors, voice brokers and other technology providers.
Exchanges Segment
We face competition from other exchanges, electronic trading systems, third-party clearing houses, technology firms, market data vendors and trading facilities in the U.S. and globally. Some of the exchanges are consortiums formed by banks and exchanges.
We face significant competition with respect to equities trading, and this competition is expected to remain intense. Our current and prospective competitors include regulated markets, dark pools and other alternative trading systems, or ATSs, market makers and other execution venues. We also face competition from large investment banks, brokers and customers that may assume the role of principal and act as counterparty to orders originating from retail customers, or match their respective order flows through bilateral trading arrangements, including through internalization of order flow. NYSE Arca and NYSE American Options face considerable competition in the equity options markets; their principal U.S. competitors are Nasdaq, Inc., or Nasdaq, and Cboe Global Markets, Inc., or Cboe.
Our principal competitor for corporate listings in the U.S. is Nasdaq. For ETF listings, we compete with Nasdaq and Cboe. We also face competition for foreign issuer listings from a number of stock exchanges outside the U.S. As other liquidity venues and new entrants seek exchange status, we may face more competition for listings.
Fixed Income and Data Services Segment
Our fixed income trading venues, or ICE Bonds, compete with other electronic trading venues. Our platforms also compete for volume traded bilaterally or trading activity that is not done through an electronic venue.
Our data services offerings face intense competition in all aspects of the business. We broadly compete with purchased third-party information and services from large global suppliers of financial market data. Our Fixed Income Data and Analytics services compete with information obtained from informal industry relationships and sources, such as broker quotes, as well as other index and portfolio analytics providers. Our ICE Global Network business competes with other extranet providers.
Mortgage Technology Segment
In our ICE Mortgage Technology business, we compete with other digital mortgage solution providers, such as Black Knight, Inc.'s origination technologies and proprietary systems that lenders have put in place. We also compete for mortgage activity that does not utilize digital solutions.
Our Growth Strategy
We seek to advance our leadership position by focusing our efforts on the following key strategies for growth:
innovate and expand our data services offerings and the networks we serve to address the rising demand for transparency and efficiency;
further develop our technology and risk management infrastructure while also increasing our distribution; and
strengthen our competitive position through select acquisitions and strategic relationships.
The record consolidated revenues, less transaction-based expenses, we achieved in 2020 reflect our focus on the implementation and execution of our long-term growth strategy.
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Innovate and Expand Our Data Services Offerings and the Networks We Serve to Address the Rising Demand for Transparency and Efficiency
Our growth strategy has been to expand the networks we serve by, in part, adding new data, connectivity and other workflow tools. By bringing together a wide range of data and analytics as well as an array of delivery mechanisms, we offer customers a comprehensive and flexible solution to address the need for more transparency, efficiency and information across their respective workflows. Our growth has been driven by many factors, such as increased automation, regulation and demand for independent, secure, real-time information.
We will continue to look for strategic opportunities to grow our networks and expect to also continue to pursue opportunities in asset classes we do not currently serve.
Further Develop Our Technology and Risk Management Infrastructure While Also Increasing Our Distribution
We develop and maintain our own infrastructure, electronic trading platforms, clearing systems, mortgage platforms and data and analytics platforms, which are designed to ensure scalability and the delivery of technology that meets our expanding customer base’s demands for price transparency, reliability, risk management and transaction efficiency. We intend to continue to increase ease of access and connectivity with our existing and prospective customers. We expect to continue rolling out NYSE Pillar, our new integrated equities trading platform and matching engine, to our equity options markets to improve performance and reduce the complexity of operating multiple trading systems. We also expect to continue to invest in mortgage technology to streamline and automate more workflows and build new capabilities. We operate systems that support trading, clearing, mortgage originations, data and analytics across five data centers. Finally, we operate our ICE Global Network, which provides connectivity to over 150 trading venues and data from over 750 sources, including ICE-operated markets and data services.
Our derivatives customer base has grown and diversified as a result of several drivers, including the addition of new markets and products, the move toward increased risk management and counterparty credit management, mark-to-market and margining services as well as regulatory requirements. We continue to add new participants to our platforms, which bring additional demand for new products and services. Our markets support price transparency and risk management, particularly in times of volatility and for products where there is less liquidity. In addition, the use of hedging, trading and risk management programs by commercial enterprises continues to rise based on the availability of technology to deliver more products, as well as the security and the capital efficiencies offered by clearing. We develop new products, but have also increased our capabilities through licenses and acquisitions of companies and intellectual property. Further, by acquiring, building and maintaining our own geographically diverse clearing operations, we are able to respond to market demand for central clearing and related risk management services across diverse geographic and regulatory jurisdictions. As new markets evolve, we intend to leverage our domain knowledge to meet additional demand for cleared products and related risk management solutions.
As requirements for regulatory compliance and capital efficiencies grow, the use of clearing and data, particularly from independent data and benchmark providers also continues to grow. We intend to continue to expand our customer base by leveraging our existing relationships and our global sales and marketing team to promote participation in our markets, and by expanding our range of products and services.
Strengthen Competitive Position Through Select Acquisitions and Strategic Relationships
We were an early consolidator in global markets and we intend to continue to explore and pursue acquisitions and other strategic opportunities to strengthen our competitive position globally, broaden our product offerings and services and support the growth of our company while enhancing stockholder value as measured by return on invested capital, earnings accretion and cash flow growth. We may enter into business combinations, make acquisitions or enter into strategic partnerships, joint ventures or other alliances, any of which may be material. In addition to growing our business, we may enter into these transactions for a variety of additional reasons, including leveraging our existing strengths to enter new markets or related asset classes, expanding our products and services, diversifying our business, addressing underserved markets, advancing our technology and anticipating or responding to regulatory or other potential changes in our industry or other industries. For example, in September 2020, we acquired Ellie Mae to expand our ICE Mortgage Technology portfolio. Through its digital lending platform, Ellie Mae provides technology services to participants in the mortgage supply chain, including its over 3,000 customers and thousands of partners and investors who provide market liquidity on its open network.
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Information About Our Executive Officers
Information relating to our executive officers is included under “Information About Our Executive Officers” in Part III, Item 10, “Directors, Executive Officers and Corporate Governance” of this Annual Report.
Regulation
Our activities and the markets in which we operate are subject to regulations that impact us as well as our customers, and, in turn, meaningfully influence our activities, the manner in which we operate and our strategy. We are primarily subject to the jurisdiction of regulatory agencies in the U.S., U.K., EU, Canada, Singapore and Abu Dhabi. Failure to satisfy regulatory requirements can or may give rise to sanctions by the applicable regulator. See the discussion below and Item 1(A) "-Risk Factors" in this Annual Report for additional descriptions of regulatory and legislative risks and uncertainties.
Regulation of our Derivatives Business
Our regulated derivatives markets and clearing houses are based primarily in the U.S., U.K., EU, Canada, Singapore and Abu Dhabi.
Our U.S. futures exchange, ICE Futures U.S., is subject to extensive regulation by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, or CFTC, under the Commodity Exchange Act, or CEA. The CEA generally requires that futures trading in the U.S. be conducted on a commodity exchange registered as a Designated Contract Market, or DCM. As a registered DCM, ICE Futures U.S. is a self-regulatory organization, or SRO, that has implemented rules and procedures to comply with the core principles applicable to it under the CEA.
In the U.K., ICE Futures Europe is a Recognized Investment Exchange, or RIE, in accordance with the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000. Like U.S. regulated derivatives markets, RIEs are SROs with surveillance and compliance responsibilities.
In the EU, ICE Endex is a regulated market in the Netherlands and its derivative markets are licensed under the Dutch Financial Services Act and supervised by the Dutch National Bank, or DNB, and the Netherlands Authority for the Financial Markets, or AFM.
In Singapore, ICE Futures Singapore is an approved exchange supervised by the Monetary Authority of Singapore, or MAS.
In Abu Dhabi, ICE Futures Abu Dhabi is an RIE and regulated by the Financial Services Regulatory Authority, or FSRA.
In Canada, ICE NGX is recognized as an exchange and clearing house by the Alberta Securities Commission and is also registered by the CFTC as a Foreign Board of Trade and as a Derivatives Clearing Organization, or DCO.
ICE Clear Credit and ICE Clear U.S. are regulated by the CFTC as DCOs. DCOs are subject to extensive regulation by the CFTC under the CEA. The Financial Stability Oversight Council, or FSOC, has designated ICE Clear Credit as a systemically important financial market utility under Title VIII of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, or Dodd-Frank Act. As such, ICE Clear Credit has access to the Federal Reserve System and holds deposits of $30.3 billion of its U.S. dollar cash in its cash accounts at the Federal Reserve as of December 31, 2020.
ICE Clear Europe, which is primarily regulated in the U.K. by the Bank of England, or BOE, as a Recognized Clearing House, is also subject to regulation by the CFTC as a DCO and by the European Securities and Markets Authority, or ESMA. Both ICE Clear Credit and ICE Clear Europe are also regulated by the SEC as clearing agencies because they clear security-based swaps.
In the EU, ICE Clear Netherlands is an authorized CCP and is regulated by the DNB and AFM.
In Singapore, ICE Clear Singapore is an approved clearing house supervised by the MAS.
Regulation of our Securities Business
In our cash equities and options markets, NYSE, NYSE Arca, NYSE American, NYSE National and NYSE Chicago are national securities exchanges and, as such, are SROs and subject to oversight by the SEC. Accordingly, our U.S. securities exchanges are regulated by the SEC and, in turn, are the regulators of their
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members. As national securities exchanges, NYSE, NYSE Arca, NYSE American, NYSE National and NYSE Chicago must comply with, and enforce compliance by their members with, the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, or the Exchange Act.
Our U.S.-based execution-oriented fixed income markets are operated by our SEC-registered broker-dealers, ICE Bonds Securities Corporation, or ICE Bonds, which operates three SEC registered ATSs, ICE BondPoint, ICE Credit Trade, and ICE TMC. ICE Bonds is subject to oversight by the SEC and is a member of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, or FINRA, and the Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board, or MSRB. FINRA and MSRB are SROs that regulate broker-dealers in the U.S. ICE Securities Execution & Clearing, LLC, a full clearing member of the National Securities Clearing Corporation, the Fixed Income Clearing Corporation and The Depository Trust Corporation, provides correspondent clearing for ICE Bonds and is subject to oversight by the SEC, FINRA and the MSRB.
Our U.K.-based execution-oriented fixed income market is operated by Creditex Brokerage, L.L.P., which is an operator of a multilateral trading facility, or MTF, and ICE Markets Limited, which acts as the matched principal counterparty to transactions arranged on the MTF operated by Creditex Brokerage. Both Creditex Brokerage and ICE Markets Limited are regulated by the U.K.’s Financial Conduct Authority, or FCA. Additionally, in connection with its bond offerings, Creditex Brokerage is authorized to provide automated trading services in Hong Kong and is subject to oversight by the Hong Kong Securities and Futures Commission and holds an Australian Market License and is subject to oversight by the Australian Securities and Investment Commission.
Regulation of our Data Business
We have a U.S. subsidiary that is registered with the SEC under the Investment Advisers Act of 1940, or the Investment Advisers Act, for its evaluated pricing services. The Investment Advisers Act imposes numerous regulatory obligations on registered investment advisers, including those relating to the management and distribution of products and services, record-keeping, compliance oversight, operational and marketing requirements, disclosure obligations and prohibitions on fraudulent activities. Investment advisers also are subject to certain state securities laws and regulations. ICE Data Services (Australia) Pty. Ltd. provides financial services in Australia and is licensed by the Australian Securities and Investment Commission, or ASIC. ICE Data Desktop Solutions (Europe) Limited provides certain financial services throughout Europe and is regulated by the FCA. ICE Data Indices applies the International Organization of Securities Commissions, or IOSCO, Principles for Financial Benchmarks to its indices. ICE Data Indices has been recognized as a third-country benchmark administrator by the FCA under the U.K. Benchmarks Regulation, or U.K. BMR. ICE Benchmark Administration Limited, or IBA, is authorized and regulated by the FCA for the regulated activity of administering a benchmark, and is authorized as a benchmark administrator under the U.K. BMR. On December 31, 2020, IBA was authorized as a benchmark administrator under the EU Benchmarks Regulation, or EU BMR. See “Regulatory Changes” below for more information.
Regulation of our Mortgage Business
We have a mortgage technology business, Ellie Mae, that is subject to examination by the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council, or the FFIEC, and its member agencies because it is a third-party service provider to financial institutions directly regulated by the FFIEC and its member agencies, including, among others, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, or CFPB.
Regulatory Changes
Domestic and foreign policy makers continue to review their legal frameworks governing financial markets, and periodically change the laws and regulations that apply to our business and to our customers’ businesses. Our key areas of focus on these evolving efforts are:
Brexit implications. On January 1, 2021, the U.K. completed its withdrawal from the EU, commonly referred to as Brexit. As a result, as of January 1, 2021, EU law no longer applies in and to the U.K. In connection with the completion of the U.K.'s withdrawal, the U.K. and EU finalized a trade and cooperation agreement, which was provisionally applied as of January 1, 2021. The trade and cooperation agreement does not cover financial services. Instead, the U.K. and EU issued a joint declaration on financial services regulatory cooperation. According to the joint declaration, the U.K. and EU should agree on a Memorandum of Understanding establishing the framework for regulatory cooperation on financial services.
Requirement that European and U.K. exchanges and CCPs offer non-discriminatory access. The non-discriminatory access provisions of the U.K.'s Markets in Financial Instruments Directive II, or U.K. MiFID II, and the EU Markets in Financial Instruments Directive II, or EU MiFID II, would require both our U.K. and European
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exchanges and CCPs to offer access to third parties on commercially reasonable terms. In addition, both the U.K. MiFID II and the EU MiFID II could require our U.K. and European exchanges and CCPs to allow participants to trade and/or clear at other venues, which may encourage competing venues to offer lookalikes of our products. On July 3, 2020, the application of these non-discriminatory access requirements for EU exchange-traded derivatives under EU MiFID II was postponed until July 3, 2021. This postponement did not form part of EU law retained by the U.K. at the end of the Brexit transition period. U.K. Treasury is currently reviewing the suitability of these requirements for U.K. markets.
Continued access by EU market participants to U.K. CCPs and exchanges. The European Commission, or EC, adopted an 18-month temporary equivalence decision for U.K. CCPs, which began to apply as of January 1, 2021. ICE Clear Europe has been recognized by ESMA as a third-country CCP in accordance with the European Markets Infrastructure Regulation, or EMIR. Separately, ICE Futures Europe and ICE Endex will continue to be able to permit access by EU and U.K. persons to transact on their platforms. The absence of an equivalence decision by the EU for U.K. trading venues, however, may result in increased costs for certain EU market participants, which could impact trading on ICE Futures Europe. The impact to our business and the potential for regulatory changes remain uncertain at this time. We are monitoring the impact to our business and are evaluating avenues to facilitate continued access for EU and U.K. customers to ICE Futures Europe and ICE Endex.
Regulatory structure applicable to non-EU clearing houses. On January 1, 2020, EMIR 2.2 became effective, which revises the EU's current regulatory and supervisory structure for EU and non-EU clearing houses. ESMA has recognized ICE Clear Europe as a third-country CCP under EMIR and determined that it is a Tier 2 CCP on the basis that it is systemically important to the financial stability of the EU or one or more of its Member States. However, ESMA's continuing implementation of these delegated regulations could still impact one or more of our other non-EU clearing houses.
Basel III capital charges. The implementation of capital charges in Basel III could have a negative impact on certain of our clearing members. In particular, the Supplemental Leverage Ratio applicable to certain financial institutions may impose capital requirements on certain of our clearing house members and their customers that may raise the costs and thus discourage financial institutions from client clearing. In June 2019, the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision revised its treatment of the leverage ratio capital requirement for derivatives that a bank centrally clears on behalf of its clients. The revised treatment will permit both cash and non-cash forms of initial margin and variation margin received from a client to offset the replacement cost and potential future exposure for client cleared derivatives only. The revision will apply to the version of the leverage ratio standard that will serve as the Pillar 1 minimum capital requirement as of January 1, 2022. In November 2019, the Federal Reserve Board, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, or FDIC, and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency finalized rule changes to the derivative exposure calculations and leverage ratio requirements. The final rule also revised the treatment of the leverage ratio capital requirement for derivatives that a bank centrally clears on behalf of its clients to permit both cash and non-cash forms of initial margin and variation margin received from a client to offset the replacement cost and potential future exposure for client cleared derivatives only. The compliance date for the revised regulation is January 1, 2022, however early adoption was permitted beginning April 1, 2020.
Capital requirements for investment firms acting as market makers. EU and U.K. policy makers are developing a framework for prudential requirements for EU and U.K. investment firms. The proposed rules risk imposing disproportionate capital requirements on EU and U.K. investment firms acting as market makers. EU and U.K. investment firms may be discouraged from acting as market makers on certain markets operated by ICE Futures Europe and ICE Endex due to the increased capital requirements.
Financial transaction and similar taxes. A number of EU Member States have considered a financial transaction tax, but many details remain to be discussed and agreed, including how to assess the tax at a Member State level. Implementation of a financial transaction tax could result in a reduction in volumes and liquidity, which would have a negative impact on our EU operations.
In the U.S., financial transaction taxes and other similar changes to tax laws are being considered in several states and a federal financial transaction tax on stocks, bonds and derivatives has been introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives. As in the EU, these types of taxes in the U.S. could result in reduced volumes and liquidity on our exchanges that trade instruments to which the tax applies.
Benchmarks Regulation. In June 2016, the EU BMR entered into force and the majority of provisions applied from January 2018. Under the EU BMR, benchmarks provided by a third-country (i.e. non-EU) benchmark administrator may be used by EU-supervised entities provided that the EC has adopted an equivalence decision or the administrator has been recognized or endorsed and the benchmarks are listed on the register established by ESMA. The EU BMR also provides for a transition period until December 31, 2021, allowing index providers to continue to provide critical benchmarks and for supervised entities to continue to utilize benchmarks provided by third-country
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administrators. There are proposals to further extend the transition period for the use of benchmarks provided by third-country administrators until at least December 31, 2023, subject to final approval by the European Parliament.
From April 27, 2018 to December 31, 2020, IBA was authorized as a benchmark administrator under the EU BMR. As of January 1, 2021, IBA is authorized as a benchmark administrator under the U.K. BMR and benchmarks provided by IBA may continue to be used by supervised entities in the EU under the EU BMR transitional provisions. From May 24, 2019 to December 31, 2020, ICE Data Indices was recognized by the FCA as a third-country benchmark administrator under the EU BMR. As of January 1, 2021, ICE Data Indices is recognized as a third-country benchmark administrator under the U.K. BMR and benchmarks provided by ICE Data Indices may continue to be used by supervised entities in the EU under the EU BMR transitional provisions.
In October 2020, the U.K. Government introduced the Financial Services Bill, which includes proposed amendments to the U.K. BMR to provide the FCA with authority to manage and direct any wind-down period prior to a cessation of the London Interbank Offered Rate, or LIBOR, including powers to direct a methodology change for a critical benchmark and extend its publication on a basis that is no longer representative of its original underlying market or economic reality. Legislation increasing the powers of regulators to change the methodology or underlying market represented by a benchmark, or extend the publication of a benchmark, including LIBOR, could result in increased risks to administrators, such as IBA, and users of such benchmarks. In November 2020, the European Parliament and Council reached an agreement on amending the EU BMR to provide the EC the power to designate a replacement benchmark that covers all references to a widely used reference rate that is phased out, including LIBOR, when necessary, to avoid disruption of the financial markets in the EU.
Market Data Requirements. Our U.K. and EU derivatives exchanges could be impacted by changes to requirements related to the dissemination of market data. In its December 2019 report to the EC, ESMA recommended against, among other things, outright regulation of market data prices, however ESMA suggested that users could gain transparency into how market data prices are set with the help of new supervisory guidance and targeted changes to the MiFID II/Markets in Financial Instruments Regulation, or MiFIR, text. The EC is considering ESMA’s report and is considering further legislative action in this area. Additionally, the FCA launched the "Accessing and using wholesale data Call for Input,” which will explore the changing use and value of data in wholesale financial markets.
As required by a May 2020 SEC Order, in August 2020, the exchanges and FINRA submitted to the SEC a proposed new, single NMS Plan to replace the three existing NMS Plans that govern the dissemination of real-time, consolidated equity market data for exchange-listed cash equity securities. This proposed new single NMS Plan would not replace the current NMS Plans until it is approved by the SEC and a transition period concludes. Approval of the new NMS Plan by the SEC may affect NYSE's revenues from the sale of consolidated market data since all the market data fees for consolidated market data would be required to be re-filed with the SEC and would not be effective until approved. Separately, in June 2020, NYSE, Nasdaq and Cboe filed petitions for review with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia of the SEC order requiring the exchanges and FINRA to file this new NMS Plan.
In December 2020, the SEC finalized a rule that would significantly change the content of consolidated data and the manner in which it is collected, consolidated and disseminated. There is a lengthy phase in of these rules of more than two years. The final rule replaces the current exclusive processor for collecting, consolidating, and disseminating cash equity market data with competing, multiple processors. NYSE currently operates the exclusive processor for securities listed on the NYSE exchanges and Cboe and will no longer receive revenue for this activity once the final rule is fully implemented. In addition, the final rule adds new depth of book and auction content to the information that is consolidated. It is uncertain the fees that exchanges will be permitted to charge competing consolidators and others for market data that is included within the new definition of consolidated market data and there could be an impact on NYSE’s revenues from the sale of market data.
Regulation of Services Offered by Non-Exchange Affiliates: In an October 2020 order approving certain wireless services filed by the NYSE exchanges, the SEC expressed an expanded interpretation of what constitutes an “exchange,” or a “facility” of an exchange, under the U.S. securities laws. To the extent that services offered by non-exchange affiliates of the NYSE exchanges are considered by the SEC to be subject to regulations applicable to registered securities exchanges, such services and the fees for such services would have to be filed with the SEC, which could impact the types of services we may offer and the revenues we receive from such services. We have filed a petition for review of this order with the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.
U.S. Listing and Trading Prohibitions on Certain Foreign Companies: On December 18, 2020, the Holding Foreign Companies Accountable Act became U.S. law. For each company required to file periodic reports with the SEC, this Act requires the SEC to identify any company that retains a registered public accounting firm that is located in a foreign jurisdiction and that the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board, or PCAOB, is unable to inspect or investigate because of a position taken in such foreign jurisdiction. If the SEC determines that the PCAOB has been
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unable to inspect or investigate such accounting firm for three consecutive years, it is required to prohibit such company from trading its securities on a U.S. securities exchange or in any “over-the-counter” market. As a consequence, the NYSE exchanges may be required to suspend trading in certain of their listed companies.
In addition, on November 12, 2020, the former President of the United States issued an Executive Order that prohibits, subject to certain exceptions, transactions by U.S. persons in the securities of certain Chinese companies identified as having ties to the People's Liberation Army, and in securities that are derivatives of, or any securities that are designated to provide investment exposure to, such Chinese companies. To comply with the Executive Order and guidance from the U.S. Department of the Treasury, the NYSE suspended trading in three of its listed companies and commenced delisting proceedings. In the future, there may be other listed companies that the NYSE will be required to take similar action to comply with the Executive Order.
See the discussion below and Item 1(A) “- Risk Factors” in this Annual Report for additional description of regulatory and legislative risks and uncertainties.
Available Information
Our principal executive offices are located at 5660 New Northside Drive, 3rd Floor, Atlanta, Georgia 30328. Our main telephone number is 1-770-857-4700, and our website is www.theice.com.
We are required to file reports and other information with the SEC. A copy of this Annual Report on Form 10-K, as well as any future Quarterly Reports on Form 10-Q, Current Reports on Form 8-K and any amendments to such reports are available free of charge, on our website as soon as reasonably practicable after we file such reports with, or furnish such reports to, the SEC. A copy of these filings is also available at the SEC’s website (www.sec.gov). The reference to our website address and to the SEC’s website address do not constitute incorporation by reference of the information contained on the website and should not be considered part of this report. From time to time, we may use our website and/or social media, including Twitter, as distribution channels of material information. The website to access our Twitter account is https://twitter.com/ICE_Markets.
In addition, we have posted on our website the charters for our (i) Audit Committee, (ii) Compensation Committee, (iii) Nominating and Corporate Governance Committee and (iv) Risk Committee, as well as our Global Code of Business Conduct, which includes information regarding our whistleblower hotline information, Board of Directors Governance Guidelines and Board Communication Policy. We will provide a copy of these documents without charge to stockholders upon request.
ITEM 1(A).   RISK FACTORS

The risks and uncertainties described below are those that we currently believe could materially adversely affect us. Other risks and uncertainties that we do not presently consider to be material or of which we are not presently aware may become important factors that affect us in the future. If any of the risks discussed below actually occur, our business, financial condition, operating results or cash flows could be materially adversely affected. Accordingly, you should carefully consider the following risk factors, as well as other information contained in or incorporated by reference in this Annual Report.
SUMMARY
The following summarizes some of the key risks and uncertainties that could materially adversely affect us. You should read this summary together with the more detailed description of each risk factor contained below.
Business and Industry
Global economic, political and financial market events or conditions may negatively impact our business.
Owning clearing houses exposes us to risks, including risks related to defaults by clearing members, risks related to investing margin and guaranty funds and the cost of operating the clearing houses.
A decline in the value of securities held as margin or guaranty fund contributions by our clearing houses or default by a sovereign government issuer could pose additional risks of default by clearing members.
Owning and operating cash equity and options exchanges exposes us to additional risks, including the regulatory responsibilities to which these businesses are subject.
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Our business is subject to the impact of financial markets volatility, including the prices and interest rates underlying our derivative products or which impact mortgage origination volumes, due to conditions that are beyond our control.
Systems failures in the derivatives and securities trading industry could negatively impact us.
We may be at greater risk from terrorism, including cyberterrorism, than other companies.
Fluctuations in foreign currency exchange rates could adversely affect our financial results.
We may have difficulty executing our growth strategy and maintaining our growth effectively.
We may not be successful in offering new products or technologies or in identifying opportunities.
The COVID-19 pandemic could adversely affect our business, results of operations and financial condition.
We may be required to recognize impairments of our goodwill, other intangible assets or investments.
Legal and Regulatory
Our businesses and those of many of our clients have been and continue to be subject to extensive legislation and regulatory scrutiny, and we face the risk of changes to our regulatory environment and business in the future.
Our compliance and risk management methods, as well as our fulfillment of our regulatory obligations, might not be effective, which could lead to enforcement actions by our regulators.
Regulatory changes or court rulings may have an adverse impact on our ability to derive revenue from market data and connectivity fees.
The uncertainty surrounding the terms of the U.K.'s exit from the EU, commonly referred to as Brexit, could adversely impact our business, results of operations and financial condition.
Risks relating to the administration of benchmarks and indices, including LIBOR, and the potential for changes to, cessations of, and the replacement of, or transition from, benchmarks and indices, including LIBOR, may result in legal risks and could adversely affect our business.
We may face liability for content contained in our data products and services.
We are subject to significant litigation and liability risks.
Operational and Liquidity
Our systems and those of our third-party service providers may be vulnerable to cyberattacks, hacking and other cybersecurity risks, which could result in wrongful manipulation, disclosure, destruction, or use of our information or that of a third party, or which could make our participants unable or reluctant to use our electronic platforms.
Our business may be harmed by computer and communication systems failures and delays.
An interruption or cessation of an important service, data or content supplied by any third party, or the loss of an exclusive license, could have a material adverse effect on our business.
Our success largely depends on key personnel, including our senior management, and having adequate succession plans in place. We may not be able to attract, retain and develop the highly skilled employees we need to support our business, which could harm our business.
We currently have a substantial amount of outstanding indebtedness which could adversely affect our financial condition and operations and restrict our activities or satisfy our debt service obligations.
Competition
We face intense competition; failure to keep up with rapid changes in technology and client preferences could negatively impact our competitive position.
Damage to our reputation could damage our business.
Intellectual Property
Our use of "open source" software could negatively impact our ability to sell our products and services and subject us to litigation.
A failure to protect our intellectual property rights, or allegations that we have infringed the intellectual property rights of others, could adversely affect our business.
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Common Stock
We are a holding company and depend on our subsidiaries for dividends, distributions and other payments.
We may fail to complete or realize the anticipated cost savings, growth opportunities and synergies and other benefits anticipated from our acquisitions, which could adversely affect the value of our common stock.
Provisions of our organizational documents and Delaware law may delay or deter a change of control of ICE.
Investment in and Operation of Bakkt
We may not realize the expected benefits of our majority investment in Bakkt and the investment may introduce additional risks to our business due to its evolving business model.
The characteristics of digital assets have been, and may in the future continue to be, exploited to facilitate illegal activity such as fraud, money laundering, tax evasion and ransomware scams, which could adversely affect us.
Bakkt is subject to anti-money laundering, counter terrorist financing laws and regulations and anti-corruption laws globally, and there can be no assurance that its employees or agents will not violate such laws and regulations.
Regulatory changes or actions may restrict the use of digital assets in a manner that adversely affects Bakkt’s business, prospects or operations and, consequently, our majority ownership interest in Bakkt.
Digital asset custodial solutions and related technology, including Bakkt’s systems and custodial arrangements, are subject to risks related to a loss of funds due to theft of digital assets, employee or vendor sabotage, security and cybersecurity risks, system failures and other operational issues and a lack of sufficient insurance which could cause damage to Bakkt’s reputation and brand.
Cyberattacks and security vulnerabilities could result in serious harm to Bakkt’s reputation, business, and financial condition.
BUSINESS AND INDUSTRY
Global economic, political and financial market events or conditions may negatively impact our business.
Adverse macroeconomic conditions, including recessions, inflation, high unemployment, government shutdowns, currency fluctuations, interest rate changes, geopolitical events, climate change, international trade disputes, including the imposition of tariffs or other protectionist measures, actual or anticipated large-scale defaults or failures or slowdown of global trade have in the past negatively impacted consumer and corporate confidence and resulted in reductions in consumer, government and corporate spending, and could have such effects in the future, and in turn impact our business. If our customers reduce spending, workforce, trading activity or demand for financial data as a result of challenges in the prevailing economic markets, our revenues could decline.
A substantial portion of our revenues are derived from data services fees and fees for transactions executed and cleared in our markets. Our market data-based revenues are largely subscription-based, or recurring, and are generated from a range of global financial and commodity markets, including pricing and reference data, exchange data, analytics, feeds, index services, desktops and connectivity solutions. For our transaction-based revenues, we derive a significant percentage from trading in global energy and agricultural-related futures and options contracts, as well as equity transactions and global interest rate contracts. The market data subscriptions and trading volumes in our markets could decline substantially if our market participants reduce their level of spending or trading activity for any reason, including:
adverse market conditions that curtail the addition of new customers or cause a decrease in purchases by our existing customers for our subscription-based products and services;
weakness in the macroeconomic environment that causes our customers to delay or cancel existing orders or subscriptions;
cost-cutting pressures across the industry or decrease in demand for our subscription-based products and services that lead to a reduction in price;
consolidation in our markets or the markets of our customers that results in a reduction in the number of market participants;
a reduction in trading demand by customers or a decision to curtail or cease hedging or speculative trading;
regulatory or legislative changes impacting our business, our customers and financial markets;
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political uncertainty and discord could negatively impact us if we are viewed as taking a political stance that is contrary to our customers' beliefs or principles;
the impact of climate change and the transition to renewable energy and away from crude oil;
a prolonged decrease in volatility in the financial markets;
heightened capital requirements or mandated reductions in leverage resulting from new regulations;
defaults by clearing or exchange members or the inability of participants to pay out contractual obligations;
changes to our contract specifications that are not viewed favorably by our market participants; or
reduced access to, or availability of, capital required to fund trading activities.
A reduction in our overall trading volume could render our markets less attractive to market participants as a source of liquidity, which could result in further loss of trading volume and associated transaction-based revenues. A reduction in trading volumes could also result in a corresponding decrease in the demand for our market data, which would further reduce our overall revenue.
Further, NYSE’s revenue increases when more companies are seeking access to public markets, and on the NYSE specifically. A stagnation or a decline in the initial public offering, or IPO, market, or issuers choosing to list on venues other than the NYSE, could have an adverse effect on our revenues.
U.S.-China trade and diplomatic tensions, U.S. government policies toward China, including sanctions laws and regulations, and Chinese government policies toward U.S. companies may impact our existing business and future opportunities, as well as affect Chinese companies’ ability to do business with us.

In addition, adverse conditions in the residential mortgage lending industry, including a substantial or prolonged decline in mortgage lending volume, may have an adverse effect on our revenues. Mortgage lending volume has decreased substantially in certain years in the past, and could again decrease in the future. Factors that could adversely impact mortgage lending volumes include increased mortgage interest rates, reduced consumer and investor demand for mortgages, more stringent underwriting guidelines, decreased liquidity in the secondary mortgage market, high levels of unemployment, high levels of consumer debt, lower consumer confidence, changes in tax and other regulatory policies, the number of existing mortgages eligible for refinancing, the available inventory of housing, affordability of housing and other macroeconomic factors.
Owning clearing houses exposes us to risks, including risks related to defaults by clearing members, risks related to investing margin and guaranty funds and the cost of operating the clearing houses.
There are risks inherent in operating clearing houses, including exposure to the market and counterparty risk of clearing members, market liquidity risks, defaults by clearing members and risks associated with custody and investing margin or guaranty fund assets provided by clearing members to our clearing houses, which could subject our business to substantial losses. For example, clearing members in ICE Clear Europe have provided margin and guaranty funds with an aggregate cash balance of $38.1 billion as of December 31, 2020 and a total of $84.1 billion for all of our clearing houses as of December 31, 2020. In addition to the use of Sovereign Central Bank access when applicable, the ICE Clearing Houses may use third-party investment advisors for investment of cash assets, subject to the guidelines provided by each clearing house, and may add or change the investment managers from time to time. To the extent available, ICE Clear Credit holds the U.S. dollar cash and U.S. Treasuries that clearing members transfer to satisfy their original margin and guaranty fund requirements at its account at the Federal Reserve. With respect to other clearing member cash posted, ICE Clear Credit currently self-manages and uses external investment managers to invest such cash margin and guaranty fund deposits.
We have an obligation to return margin payments and guaranty fund contributions to clearing members to the extent that the relevant member’s risk based on its open contracts to the clearing house is reduced. If a number of clearing members substantially reduce their open interest or default, the concentration of risks within our clearing houses will be spread among a smaller pool of clearing members, which would make it more difficult to absorb and manage risk in the event of a further clearing member’s default.
Although our clearing houses have policies and procedures to help ensure that clearing members can satisfy their obligations, such policies and procedures may not succeed in preventing losses after a member's or counterparty’s default. In addition, although we believe that we have carefully analyzed the process for setting margins and our financial safeguards, it is a complex process and there is no guarantee that our procedures will adequately protect us from the risks related to clearing these products. We cannot assure you these measures and safeguards will be sufficient to protect us
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from a default or that we will not be materially and adversely affected in the event of a significant default. We have contributed our own capital to the front of the guaranty fund of the clearing houses that could be used in the event of a default. Furthermore, in 2019, we added a layer of insurance to our clearing member default protection. The default insurance layer resides after and in addition to the ICE Clear Credit, ICE Clear Europe, and ICE Clear U.S. ‘Skin In The Game’ contributions and before the guaranty fund contributions of the non-defaulting clearing members. The default insurance has a three-year term, subject to renewal. Notwithstanding these actions, the default of any one of the clearing members could subject our business to substantial losses and cause our customers to lose confidence in the guaranty of our clearing houses.
A decline in the value of securities held as margin or guaranty fund contributions by our clearing houses or default by a sovereign government issuer could pose additional risks of default by clearing members.
Our clearing houses hold a substantial amount of assets as margin or guaranty fund contributions, which comprise U.S. and other sovereign treasury securities. As of December 31, 2020, our clearing houses held $67.3 billion of non-cash margin or guaranty fund contributions in U.S. and other sovereign treasury securities: $50.7 billion of this amount was comprised of U.S. Treasury securities, $2.6 billion of French Treasury securities, $2.2 billion of German Treasury securities, $2.4 billion of U.K. Treasury securities and $9.4 billion of other European, Japanese and Tri-Party Treasury securities. Sovereign treasury securities have historically been viewed as one of the safest and most liquid securities for clearing houses to hold due to the perceived credit worthiness of major governments. However, the markets for such securities have experienced significant volatility during the past decade due to on-going financial challenges in some of the major European countries and the U.S. government’s negotiations regarding taxation, spending cuts and raising the debt ceiling, which is the maximum amount of debt that the U.S. government can legally incur. In addition, if there is a collapse in a specific currency relied upon by our clearing houses, our clearing houses would face significant expenses in changing their systems and such an event could cause a credit contraction and major swings in asset prices and exchange rates. To mitigate this risk, our clearing houses currently apply a discount or “haircut” to the market values for all sovereign securities held as margin or guaranty fund contributions; however, market conditions could change more quickly than we adjust the amount of the haircuts and the haircuts could be insufficient in the event of a sudden market event.
If the value of these securities declines significantly, our clearing houses will need to collect additional margin or guaranty fund contributions from their clearing members, which may be difficult for the members to supply in a time of financial stress affected by an actual or threatened default by a sovereign government. If a clearing member cannot supply the additional margin or guaranty fund contributions, which may include cash in a currency acceptable to the clearing house, the clearing house would deem the clearing member in default. If any clearing members default as a result of the reduction in the value of margin or guaranty fund contributions, our clearing houses and trading business could suffer substantial losses as a result of the loss of any capital that has been contributed to the clearing house’s guaranty funds and a loss of confidence by clearing members in the clearing house, resulting in a reduction in volumes of future cleared transactions.
Further, our clearing houses invest large sums through reverse repo transactions in connection with their clearing operations and hold sovereign securities as security in connection with such investment transactions. In the event that a reverse repo counterparty defaults, the value of the sovereign securities we hold as collateral might not be sufficient to cover our losses. Our clearing houses may also make demand deposits with banks that are secured only to the value of FDIC insurance or other national deposit guarantee schemes, which is small, and therefore, the deposits may in significant part be lost in the event one of these banks becomes insolvent.
Owning and operating cash equity and options exchanges exposes us to additional risks, including the regulatory responsibilities to which these businesses are subject.
Owning and operating cash equity and options exchanges for which the revenues are primarily derived from trading activity, market data and listing fees, exposes us to additional risks. Adverse economic conditions and legal and regulatory changes similar to those discussed elsewhere in this section could result in decreased trading volume on our exchanges, discourage or prohibit market participants from listing on our exchanges or cause them to forgo new offerings. Any of these could reduce our revenues, including market data and listing fee revenue.
Our cash equity and options exchanges also have certain regulatory responsibilities that must be fulfilled. For example, these exchanges are responsible for enforcing listed company compliance with applicable listing standards, enforcing our members' compliance with exchange rules and federal securities laws, complying with terms of NMS Plans, filing of all material changes to exchanges' rules with the SEC, and operating our exchanges consistent with exchange rules, federal securities laws, and other applicable laws. Any failure by one of our exchanges to comply with, and enforce compliance by their members with, exchange rules and securities laws could significantly harm our reputation, prompt regulatory scrutiny,
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result in the payment of fines or penalties and adversely affect our business, financial condition and operating results. Our ability to do this could be impaired by, for example, recent SEC amendments to NMS Plans for the consolidation of market data that impede the ability of the exchanges and FINRA to discharge their legal obligations by restricting the flow of information and constraining the decision-making authority of the exchanges and FINRA.
We must allocate significant resources to fulfill our regulatory and self-regulatory responsibilities. The for-profit exchanges’ goal of maximizing stockholder value might contradict the exchanges’ regulatory and self-regulatory responsibilities. In addition, the listing of our common stock on the NYSE could potentially create a conflict between the exchange’s regulatory responsibilities to vigorously oversee the listing and trading of securities, on the one hand, and our commercial and economic interest, on the other hand. While we have structural protections to minimize these potential conflicts, we cannot be sure that such measures will be successful.
Further, changes in the rules of our securities markets must be reviewed and approved by the SEC. Approval of such changes by the SEC cannot be guaranteed, and the SEC could delay either the approval process or the initiation of the public comment process. Any denial or delay in approving changes could have an adverse effect on our business, financial condition and operating results.
See Item 1 “- Business - Regulation” above for additional information regarding regulatory changes impacting our cash equities and options exchanges, including risks to our business associated with possible regulation of services offered by non-exchange affiliates and U.S. listing and trading prohibitions on certain foreign companies.
Our business is subject to the impact of financial markets volatility, including the prices and interest rates underlying our derivative products, or which impact mortgage origination volumes, due to conditions that are beyond our control.
Trading volume in our markets and products is largely driven by the degree of volatility - the magnitude and frequency of fluctuations - in prices and levels of the underlying commodities, securities, indices, financial benchmarks or other instruments. Volatility increases the need to hedge price risk and creates opportunities for investment and speculative or arbitrage trading. Were there to be a sustained period of stability in the prices or levels of the underlying commodities, securities, indices, benchmarks or other instruments of our products, we could experience lower trading volumes, slower growth or declines in revenues.
Factors that are particularly likely to affect price and interest rate levels and volatility, and thus trading volumes, include:
global economic, political and market conditions;
concerns over inflation, deflation, legislative and regulatory changes, government fiscal and monetary policy - including actions by the Federal Reserve and other foreign monetary units' governing bodies, and investor and consumer confidence levels;
weather conditions including hurricanes and other significant events, natural and unnatural disasters like large oil spills that impact the production of commodities and, in the case of energy commodities, production, refining and distribution facilities for oil and natural gas;
war, acts of terrorism and any unforeseen market closures or disruptions in trading;
political developments impacting international trade, including continued uncertainty surrounding the implementation of Brexit, trade disputes and increased tariffs, particularly between the U.S. and China, and imposition of protectionist measures;
real and perceived changes in the supply and demand of commodities underlying our products, particularly energy and agricultural products, including changes as a result of technological improvements or the development of alternative energy sources; and
credit quality of market participants, the availability of capital and the levels of assets under management.
Any one or more of these factors, which are beyond our control, may reduce trading activity, which could make our markets less attractive as a source of liquidity, and in turn could further discourage existing and potential market participants and thus accelerate a decline in the level of trading activity and potentially related services such as data or clearing. Further, lower market volatility could also result in more exchanges competing for trading volumes to maintain their growth. If any of these unfavorable conditions were to persist over a lengthy period of time and trading volumes were to decline substantially and for a long enough period, the critical mass of transaction volume necessary to support viable markets could be jeopardized. Because our cost structure is largely fixed, if demand for our current products and services
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decline for any reason, we may not be able to adjust our cost structure to counteract the associated decline in revenues, which would cause our net income to decline.
Systems failures in the derivatives and securities trading industry could negatively impact us.
High-profile system failures in the derivatives and securities trading industry have in the past, and could in the future, negatively impact our business and result in a loss of confidence in our technology and our markets, regulatory investigations, fines and penalties and business activity slowdown or interruptions. Further, regulators have imposed requirements for trading platforms that have been costly for us to implement and could result in a decrease in demand for some of our services. In particular, the SEC’s Regulation Systems Compliance and Integrity, or Regulation SCI, and the CFTC’s system safeguards regulations subject portions of our securities and derivatives trading platforms and other technological systems related to our clearing houses, trade repositories and the U.S. Swap Execution Facility, or SEF, to extensive regulation and oversight. Ensuring our compliance with the requirements of Regulation SCI and the CFTC’s system safeguards regulations requires significant ongoing administrative and compliance expenses and burdens. In addition, the SEC’s expansion of the ICE systems that are determined to be in scope for Regulation SCI could result in significant additional expenditures.
We may be at greater risk from terrorism, including cyberterrorism, than other companies.
Given our prominence in the global securities industry and the location of many of our properties and personnel in U.S. and European financial centers, including lower Manhattan, we may be more likely than other companies to be a direct target of, or an indirect casualty of, attacks by terrorists or terrorist organizations, or other extremist organizations that employ threatening or harassing means to achieve their social or political objectives.
It is impossible to predict the likelihood or impact of any terrorist attack on the securities industry generally or on our business. In the event of an attack or a threat of an attack, our security measures and contingency plans may be inadequate to prevent significant disruptions in our business, technology or access to the infrastructure necessary to maintain our business. Damage to our facilities due to terrorist attacks may be significantly in excess of insurance coverage, and we may not be able to insure against some damage at a reasonable price or at all. The threat of terrorist attacks may also negatively affect our ability to attract and retain employees. In addition, terrorist attacks may cause instability or decreased trading in the securities markets, including trading on exchanges. Any of these events could adversely affect our business, financial condition and operating results.
Fluctuations in foreign currency exchange rates could adversely affect our financial results.
Since we conduct operations in several different countries, including the U.S., U.K. and Canada, as well as the EU, substantial portions of our revenues, expenses, assets and liabilities are denominated in U.S. dollars, pounds sterling, Canadian dollars and euros. Because our consolidated financial statements are presented in U.S. dollars, we must translate non-U.S. dollar denominated revenues, income and expenses, as well as assets and liabilities, into U.S. dollars at exchange rates in effect during or at the end of each reporting period. Therefore, increases or decreases in the value of the U.S. dollar against the other currencies could affect our net operating revenues, operating income and the value of balance sheet items denominated in foreign currencies.
External events such as Brexit and the negotiations regarding the terms thereof and the passage of U.S. taxation reform legislation have caused, and may continue to cause, significant volatility in currency exchange rates, especially among the U.S. dollar, the British pound sterling and the euro. If global economic and market conditions, or economic conditions in the U.K., EU, the U.S. or other key markets remain uncertain or deteriorate further, the value of the pound sterling and euro and the global credit markets may further weaken. General financial instability in countries in the EU could have a contagion effect on the region and contribute to the general instability and uncertainty in the EU. Events that adversely affect our U.K. and EU clients and suppliers could in turn have a materially adverse effect on our international business results and our operating results.
For additional information on our foreign currency exchange rate risk, refer to “- Foreign Currency Exchange Rate Risk” in Item 7A “- Quantitative and Qualitative Disclosures About Market Risk", which is included in this Annual Report.
We may have difficulty executing our growth strategy and maintaining our growth effectively.
We have achieved significant growth since becoming a public company in 2005. Our growth is highly dependent on customer demand for our core products and services, favorable economic conditions and our ability to invest in our personnel, facilities, infrastructure and financial and management systems and controls. Adverse economic conditions
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could reduce customer demand for our products and services, which may place a significant strain on our management and resources and could force us to defer existing or future planned opportunities. We regularly evaluate our existing operations, service capacity and business efficiencies and, as a result of such evaluations, we may undertake strategic initiatives outside of and within our businesses. We may not be successful in executing on our strategies to support our growth organically or through acquisitions, other investments or strategic alliances.
We may not be successful in offering new products or technologies or in identifying opportunities.
We from time to time launch, and intend in the future to launch, new products, services and business ventures and continue to explore and pursue other opportunities to strengthen our business and grow our company. We have spent and may continue to spend substantial time and money developing new product or service offerings or improving current product or service offerings, including, for example, our mortgage technology services. If these offerings are not successful, we may miss a potential market opportunity and not be able to recover the costs of such initiatives. Obtaining any required regulatory approval associated with these offerings may also result in delays or restrictions on our ability to benefit fully from these offerings. Further, we have entered into and may seek in the future to enter into or increase our presence in markets that already possess established competitors who may enjoy the protection of high barriers to entry, among other advantages. Introducing or maintaining our offerings in certain countries is also subject to a number of other risks, including currency exchange rate risk, difficulties enforcing agreements or collecting receivables, longer payment cycles, compliance with the laws or regulations of these countries, and political and regulatory uncertainties.
In addition, in light of consolidation in the exchange, data services, clearing and mortgage technology sectors and competition for opportunities, we may be unable to identify strategic opportunities or we may be unable to negotiate or finance any future acquisition successfully. Our competitors could merge, making it more difficult for us to find appropriate entities to acquire or merge with and making it more difficult to compete in our industry due to the increased resources of our merged competitors. Also, offering new products and services and pursuing acquisitions requires substantial time and attention of our management team, which could prevent them from successfully overseeing other initiatives that are necessary for our success.
The COVID-19 pandemic could adversely affect our business, results of operations and financial condition.
The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has created economic and financial disruptions globally and has led governmental authorities to take unprecedented measures to mitigate the spread of the disease, including travel bans, border closings, business closures, quarantines and shelter-in-place orders, and to take actions designed to stabilize markets and promote economic growth.
From an operational perspective, the spread of COVID-19 has resulted in, and could continue to result in, temporary closures of our office facilities and the office facilities of our customers and our third-party vendors. We have taken preventive measures and implemented contingency plans, and currently most of our employees are working remotely. However, we cannot assure you that such measures will adequately protect our business, and an extended period of remote work arrangements could heighten existing and introduce new operational risks, including, but not limited to, cybersecurity risk, and could strain our technological resources and business continuity plans. If one or more of the third-party vendors to whom we outsource certain material activities claim that they cannot perform due to a force majeure or experience operational failures as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, it could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations and financial condition. Further, although we maintain contingency plans for events such as pandemic outbreaks, the further spread of COVID-19 could impact the availability of our executive officers and other key employees who are necessary to conduct our business.
The extent of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on our business, financial condition and results of operations will depend largely on future developments, including, among other things, the widespread distribution, acceptance and effectiveness of a vaccine, which are highly uncertain and cannot be predicted at this time. Delays in the widespread distribution of a vaccine, or lack of public acceptance of a vaccine, could have an adverse effect on the global economy. Further, even if a vaccine is widely distributed and accepted, there can be no assurance that the vaccine will ultimately be successful in limiting or stopping the spread of COVID-19. A prolonged economic downturn could have an adverse effect on our revenues related to certain activities such as a decline in demand for certain data products and a decline in IPOs. The COVID-19 pandemic could also have an adverse impact on our customers’ businesses, risk management needs and ability to trade, and the resulting impact on our business will depend on future developments, which are highly uncertain and cannot be predicted.
While governmental organizations are engaging in efforts to combat the spread and severity of COVID-19, these measures may not be effective. Moreover, actions taken by U.S. or other governmental authorities that are intended to
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ameliorate the macroeconomic or other effects of COVID-19, or delays in the announcement or implementation of regulatory measures that had been pending prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, have resulted in and may in the future result in regulatory uncertainty and could in turn impact our business. At this time, we cannot predict how legal and regulatory responses to concerns about COVID-19 will impact our business.
In addition, to the extent that COVID-19 may adversely affect our business, financial condition or results of operations, it may also heighten other risks described in this section.
We may be required to recognize impairments of our goodwill, other intangible assets or investments.
The determination of the value of goodwill and other intangible assets requires the use of estimates and assumptions that affect our consolidated financial statements. As of December 31, 2020, we had goodwill of $21.3 billion and net other intangible assets of $14.4 billion relating to our acquisitions and our purchase of trademarks and Internet domain names from various third parties.
During 2020, we did not record any impairments of our goodwill, intangible assets or investments. We cannot assure you that we will not experience future events that may result in these types of impairments. An impairment of the value of our existing goodwill, other intangible assets and other investments and assets could have a significant negative impact on our future operating results.
For additional information on our goodwill, other intangible assets and investments, refer to Notes 3, 4 and 8 to our consolidated financial statements and “- Critical Accounting Policies - Goodwill and Other Identifiable Intangible Assets” in Item 7 “- Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations,” which are included in this Annual Report.
LEGAL AND REGULATORY
Our businesses and those of many of our clients have been and continue to be subject to extensive legislation and regulatory scrutiny, and we face the risk of changes to our regulatory environment and business in the future.
We are and will continue to be subject to extensive regulation in many jurisdictions around the world, and in particular in the U.S. and the U.K. We face the risk of significant actions by regulatory and taxing authorities in all jurisdictions in which we conduct our businesses and hold investments, which may affect our business, the activity of our market participants, and our results. Among other things, as a result of regulators and tax authorities enforcing existing laws and regulations, we could be censured, fined, prohibited from pursuing certain acquisitions or engaging in some of our business activities, subjected to limitations or conditions on our business activities, including fair, reasonable and nondiscriminatory pricing restrictions, also known as FRAND, or subjected to new or substantially higher taxes or other governmental charges in connection with the conduct of our business or with respect to our employees, including settlement payments, interest payments and penalty payments. In many cases, our activities may be subject to overlapping and divergent regulation in different jurisdictions.
There is also the risk that new laws or regulations or changes in enforcement practices applicable to our businesses or those of our clients could be imposed. This could adversely affect our ability to compete effectively with other institutions that are not affected in the same way or impact our clients’ overall trading volume through our exchanges and demand for our market data, mortgage technology and other services.
We are also subject to regulatory risks relating to the mortgage industry, which is heavily regulated in the U.S. Changes to existing laws or regulations or adoption of new laws or regulations that affect the residential mortgage industry could reduce residential mortgage volume or otherwise limit the ability of users and participants of our mortgage technology services to operate their businesses, resulting in decreased usage of our solutions. Alternatively, reduced regulatory requirements could also reduce the demand for certain of our products and services, which are intended to enable our customers to satisfy existing regulatory requirements. In addition, potential structural changes in the U.S. residential mortgage industry, in particular, plans to diminish the role of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, could disrupt the residential mortgage market and have a material adverse effect on our business.
There is also increasing public concern regarding data privacy and data protection and many jurisdictions have passed laws in this area, such as the European Union General Data Protection Regulation, the U.K. General Data Protection Regulation, and the California Consumer Privacy Act, and other jurisdictions are considering imposing additional restrictions. The laws and regulations related to privacy and data protection are increasing in complexity and number,
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change frequently and increasingly conflict among the various countries in which we operate, which has resulted in greater compliance risk and cost for us. Regulation of privacy and data protection often times require monitoring of, and changes to, our data practices in regard to the collection, use, disclosure, storage, transfer and/or security of personal and sensitive information, including the personal information of the customers of the users of the software and services provided by our ICE Mortgage Technology business.
These developments could impact our profitability in the affected jurisdictions, or even make it uneconomical for us to continue to conduct all or certain of our businesses in such jurisdictions, or could cause us to incur significant costs associated with changing our business practices, restructuring our businesses or moving all or certain of our businesses and our employees to other jurisdictions, including liquidating assets or raising capital in a manner that adversely increases our funding costs or otherwise adversely affects our stockholders and creditors.
U.S., U.K. and EU legal and regulatory developments, in particular EMIR, EMIR 2.2, MiFID II and the BMR, including each such regulation as incorporated into U.K. law, and the Dodd-Frank Act, have significantly altered and propose to further alter the regulatory framework within which we operate and may adversely affect our competitive position and profitability. These regulatory developments could also cause us to change our business practices, restructure our businesses or move certain of our businesses and employees. The enacted and proposed legal and regulatory changes most likely to affect our businesses are: non-discriminatory access provisions of MiFID II, interoperability and margin rules in EMIR, enhanced regulatory capital liquidity and leverage rules in Basel III and Capital Requirements Directive IV, access rules under the BMR, the non-harmonization of margin requirements, implementation of a financial transaction tax, access to our benchmarks and maintaining our exchanges’ abilities to operate as SROs with related immunity for the discharge of their regulatory functions. As the operator of global businesses, the lack of harmonization in international financial reform efforts could impact our business as our clearing houses and exchanges are subject to regulation in multiple jurisdictions.
The Dodd-Frank Act established enhanced regulatory requirements for non-bank financial institutions designated as “systemically important” by the FSOC. ICE Clear Credit has been designated as a systemically important financial market utility by the FSOC and, as a result, is subject to additional oversight by the CFTC. Compliance with these requirements has resulted in, and will continue to result in, additional operating costs.
In 2016, the SEC approved a plan to establish a market-wide consolidated audit trail, or CAT, to improve regulators’ ability to monitor trading activity. In 2018, the first phase of implementation went live and required SRO participants to begin reporting to the CAT. In addition to increased risk in connection with our regulatory obligations, implementation of the CAT could result in significant additional expenditures, which may not be reimbursed. Funding of the implementation and operation of the CAT is ultimately expected to be provided by both the SROs and broker-dealers. To date, however, funding has been provided solely by the SROs, partly in exchange for promissory notes, which increases the risk that SROs, including us, will not be reimbursed for costs expended to date. Due to delays and failures in implementation and functionality by the original plan processor, we recorded promissory note impairment charges of $2 million and $16 million in 2020 and 2019, respectively. We believe the risk that SROs are not reimbursed has increased, resulting in this impairment. Until the SEC approves a funding model that shares the cost of the CAT between the SROs and broker-dealers, the SROs may continue to incur additional costs, which may become significant and may not be reimbursed. As of December 31, 2020, we have accrued approximately $22 million as a receivable in connection with our portion of expenses related to the CAT implementation.
We are subject to tax laws, regulations, rulings and audits in multiple U.S. and non-U.S. jurisdictions that could have a significant impact on our business and lead to additional expenditures for us or our customers. For example, there have been discussions in various jurisdictions around financial transaction or digital service tax frameworks. Changes to tax frameworks in jurisdictions where we operate significant business, for example in New Jersey, New York, the EU or federally in the U.S., has the potential to increase costs to us or to our market participants and discourage participation in the markets we operate. Furthermore, implementation of any new or amended tax laws or regulations could impact our global operations or trading volumes.
Other enacted and proposed legal and regulatory changes not discussed above may also adversely affect our competitive position and profitability. See Item 1 “- Business - Regulation” above for additional information regarding the current and proposed laws and regulations that impact our business, including risks to our business associated with these laws and regulations.
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Our compliance and risk management methods, as well as our fulfillment of our regulatory obligations, might not be effective, which could lead to enforcement actions by our regulators.
Our ability to comply with existing rules, regulations and laws and changing rules, regulations and laws largely depends on our establishment and maintenance of compliance, audit and reporting systems that can quickly adapt and respond, as well as our ability to attract and retain qualified compliance and other risk management personnel. Regulators periodically review our ability to self-regulate and our compliance with a variety of laws and regulations including self-regulatory standards. Certain of our businesses associated with the NYSE are subject to public notice procedures prior to making changes in operations, policies and procedures. If we fail to comply with any of these obligations, regulators could take a variety of actions that could impair our ability to conduct our business.
Our acquisitions expose us to new regulatory requirements. For example, as a result of our acquisition of Interactive Data, we operate an SEC-registered investment adviser. Investment advisers are subject to significant regulatory obligations under the Investment Advisers Act. Prior to this acquisition, none of our businesses were registered under the Investment Advisers Act. Compliance with the Investment Advisers Act and other regulatory requirements gives rise to costs and expenses that may be material. In addition, our acquisition of the BondPoint ATS in January 2018 and our acquisition of TMC Bonds in July 2018 exposes us to increased exposure to regulatory scrutiny from the SEC, FINRA and MSRB. Our acquisition of Ellie Mae in 2020 exposes us to increased exposure to regulatory scrutiny from U.S. regulatory bodies which regulate the U.S. residential mortgage industry, including the FFIEC and its member agencies, including, among others, the CFPB.
Our regulators have broad enforcement powers to censure, fine, issue cease-and-desist orders, embargo future business activity or prohibit us from engaging in some of our businesses. We have settled certain regulatory actions in the past, including ICE Data Pricing & Reference Data LLC’s settlement with the SEC in November 2020 in which we agreed to pay an $8 million civil monetary penalty. We continue to face the risk of significant intervention by regulatory authorities, including extensive examination and surveillance activity of our business. Any such matters may result in material adverse consequences to our financial condition, operating results or ability to conduct our business, including adverse judgments, settlements, fines, penalties, injunctions, restrictions on our business activities or other relief. Our involvement in any such matters, even if the matters are ultimately determined to be in our favor, could also cause significant harm to our reputation and divert management attention from the operation of our business. Further, any settlement, consent order or adverse judgment in connection with any formal or informal proceeding or investigation by government or regulatory agencies may result in additional litigation, investigations or proceedings as other litigants and government or regulatory agencies begin independent reviews of the same businesses or activities. Finally, the implementation of new legislation or regulations, or changes in or unfavorable interpretations of existing regulations by courts or regulatory bodies, could require us to incur significant compliance costs and impede our ability to remain competitive and grow our business.
Regulatory changes or court rulings may have an adverse impact on our ability to derive revenue from market data and connectivity fees.
Regulatory developments or court rulings could reduce the amount of revenue that we obtain from exchange market data and connectivity fees related to our U.S. equity and options exchanges. With respect to our U.S. equities and equity options exchanges, our ability to assess fees for market data products and certain connectivity fees are subject to review by the SEC. There continues to be opposing industry viewpoints and litigation as to the extent that our U.S. equities and equity options exchanges should be able to charge for market data and market access, and the manner in which we set such exchange fees could be reassessed.
If new constraints are placed on our ability to charge for market data or market access in the U.S., it could have a negative impact on our revenues. We cannot predict whether, or in what form, any regulatory or other changes will take effect or their impact on our business. A determination by the SEC or a court, for example, that the SEC must link market data fees to marginal costs, take a more active role in the market data rate-setting process, or reduce the current levels of market data fees, could have an adverse effect on our market data revenues.
Separately, our European exchanges are currently authorized to sell trade information on a non-discriminatory basis at a reasonable cost. This regulatory position could be modified or interpreted by the EC or future European court decisions in a manner that could have an adverse effect on our European market data revenues.
In addition, the FCA and IOSCO have both issued consultations to explore access to market data in financial markets. The results of these consultations may lead to a regulatory response that could affect our business. Similar to the U.S., if new constraints are placed on our ability to charge for market data or market access in the U.K. or other jurisdictions, it could have a negative impact on our revenues.
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The uncertainty surrounding the terms of the U.K.'s exit from the EU, commonly referred to as Brexit, could adversely impact our business, results of operations and financial condition.
In 2016, voters in the U.K. approved an exit from the EU, commonly referred to as Brexit. Brexit has created political and economic uncertainty and instability in the global markets (including currency and credit markets), particularly in the U.K. and EU. In addition, political and economic uncertainty surrounding the future relationship of the U.K. and EU could lead to certain macroeconomic conditions that adversely affect our business. Adverse macroeconomic consequences such as deterioration in economic conditions, volatility in currency exchange rates, legal uncertainty, potentially divergent national laws and regulations as the U.K. determines which EU laws to replace or enactment of replicate and/or prohibitive laws and regulations that may adversely affect both demand for our products and services and our ability to deliver our products and services into the EU. The long-term effects of Brexit will depend, in part, on the agreement the U.K. made to retain access to EU markets.
Following the formation of a majority Conservative government in December 2019, the U.K. withdrew from the EU on January 31, 2020 and completed its withdrawal on January 1, 2021. Prior to completing its withdrawal, in December 2020, the U.K. and EU agreed to a trade and cooperation agreement which was provisionally applied as of January 1, 2021. This agreement governs the EU-U.K. relationship after the completion of the U.K.’s exit from the EU. The U.K.-EU Brexit deal does not provide a transition period for financial services, or any new arrangements to replace the existing “passport.” This leaves both the U.K. and EU to address matters of access in financial services through declarations of equivalence under existing equivalence regimes contained in U.K. and EU law and through domestic laws. The EC has however adopted an 18-month temporary equivalence decision for U.K. CCPs, which applies beginning on January 1, 2021. ICE Clear Europe has been recognized by ESMA as a third-country CCP in accordance with EMIR.
As a result of the trade and cooperation agreement not providing free trade arrangements for financial services, any equivalence determinations or any further transition period for financial services, could include restrictions on access to our services by persons located in the EU or make access more expensive, which could adversely affect our operations and profitability or even make it uneconomical for us to continue to conduct all or certain of our businesses in such jurisdictions. The consequences of Brexit and the terms of the trade and cooperation agreement could also cause us to incur significant costs associated with changing our business practices, restructuring our businesses or moving certain of our businesses and our employees to other jurisdictions. See Item 1 “- Business - Regulation” above for additional information regarding Brexit, including risks to our business associated with Brexit.
Risks relating to the administration of benchmarks and indices, including LIBOR, and the potential for changes to, cessations of, and the replacement of, or transition from, benchmarks and indices, including LIBOR, may result in legal risks and could adversely affect our business.
Certain of our subsidiaries produce and license multiple global benchmarks and indices across asset classes, which are referenced in certain of our trading and clearing products. To ensure continued trading and clearing in these benchmark-related products, and the continued licensing and use of these benchmarks and indices, our subsidiaries must be able to demonstrate that these benchmarks and indices are administered with integrity and are not readily subject to manipulation and must also continue to evolve these benchmarks and indices as necessary to maintain their reliability and relevance. As an example, our subsidiary, IBA, is the administrator of various global benchmarks, including LIBOR. IBA assumed the administration of LIBOR following various cases of attempted manipulation and misconduct related to the LIBOR benchmark that emerged following the financial crisis. Any failures, negative publicity or lawsuits related to our subsidiaries' administration of benchmarks and indices, including LIBOR, could result in a loss of confidence in the administration of these benchmarks and indices and could harm our business and our reputation.
Changes to, cessations of, and the replacement of or transition from, our subsidiaries' benchmarks and indices, including LIBOR, or any other changes or reforms to the determination or administration of such benchmarks and indices, could result in legal risks, risks to our reputation, and have an adverse impact on our business, financial condition and operating results. In July 2017, the FCA stated its intention that it would no longer be necessary to sustain LIBOR through its influence or legal powers beyond 2021. The FCA and global regulators have since advocated for a transition from LIBOR to alternative rates by the end of 2021. On December 4, 2020, IBA published a consultation on its intention to cease the publication of (i) all GBP, EUR, CHF and JPY LIBOR settings, and the 1 Week and 2 Month USD LIBOR settings immediately following the LIBOR publication on December 31, 2021, and (ii) the Overnight and 1, 3, 6 and 12 Month USD LIBOR settings immediately following the LIBOR publication on June 30, 2023, subject to any rights of the FCA to compel IBA to continue publication. The consultation closed on January 25, 2021, and IBA intends to share the results of the consultation with the FCA and to publish a feedback statement summarizing responses from the consultation.
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In October 2020, the U.K. Government introduced the Financial Services Bill, which includes proposed U.K. legislation to ensure that the FCA has appropriate regulatory powers to manage and direct any wind-down period prior to eventual LIBOR cessation. The new proposed powers would allow the FCA to compel IBA to publish critical benchmarks (such as LIBOR) under a new methodology that is no longer representative of the underlying market that the benchmark currently measures, and also to restrict the use of critical benchmarks (such as LIBOR) subject to such changes or in respect of which the administrator has confirmed its intention to cease the benchmark.
We continue to monitor industry and regulatory developments, but it is not yet possible to predict with certainty how the transition from, and any potential cessations of, LIBOR will proceed, and how the proposed new powers of the FCA will be implemented, and what effect the transition from, and any potential exercise of new FCA powers in relation to, LIBOR may have on the markets that use the benchmark today.
We may face liability for content contained in our data products and services.
We have been, and may in the future be, subject to claims for breach of contract, defamation, libel, copyright or trademark infringement, fraud or negligence or based on other theories of liability, in each case relating to the data, articles, commentary, ratings, information or other content we distribute in our financial data services. If such data or other content or information that we distribute has errors, is delayed or has design defects, we could be subject to liability or our reputation could suffer. We could also be subject to claims based upon the content that is accessible from our corporate website or those websites that we own and operate through links to other websites. Use of our products and services as part of the investment process creates the risk that clients, or the parties whose assets are managed by our clients, may pursue claims against us for significant amounts. Any such claim, even if the outcome were ultimately favorable to us, could involve a significant commitment of our management, personnel, financial and other resources. Such claims and lawsuits could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and operating results and a negative impact on our reputation.
In addition, we license and redistribute data and content from various third parties and the terms of these licenses change frequently. Our third-party data and content suppliers may audit our use of and our clients’ use of and payment for data and content from time to time in the ordinary course of business, including audits currently underway. Such third-party data and content suppliers have asserted and may in the future assert that we or our clients owe additional amounts under the terms of the applicable license agreements, that we inappropriately distributed the third-party data or that we or our clients used the data or content in a manner that exceeded the scope of the applicable license agreement or without a license agreement. See the discussion on the trademark infringement and breach of contract claims from CME Group, Inc., or CME, under the caption "SPAN Trademark Dispute" in Note 15 to our consolidated financial statements and related notes, which are included elsewhere in this Annual Report. We have and expect to continue to spend and allocate resources to develop and acquire the use of technology and other intellectual property rights to manage these risks and track third-party data usage, but we cannot be assured that we will not incur liability. We may incur costs to investigate any allegations and may be required to pay damages to or make unexpected settlement payments to these data and content suppliers and these costs and payments could be material.
We are subject to significant litigation and liability risks.
Many aspects of our business, and the businesses of our participants, involve substantial risks of liability. These risks include, among others, potential liability from disputes over terms of a trade and the claim that a system failure or delay caused monetary loss to a participant or that an unauthorized trade occurred. For example, dissatisfied market participants that have traded on our electronic platforms or those on whose behalf such participants have traded may make claims regarding the quality of trade execution, or allege improperly confirmed or settled trades, abusive trading practices, security and confidentiality breaches, mismanagement or even fraud against us or our participants. In addition, because of the ease and speed with which sizable trades can be executed on our electronic platform, participants can lose substantial amounts by inadvertently entering trade orders or by entering them inaccurately. A large number of significant error trades could result in participant dissatisfaction and a decline in participant willingness to trade in our electronic markets.
In addition, we are subject to on-going legal disputes that could result in the payment of fines, penalties or damages and could expose us to additional liability in the future. See Item 3 "Legal Proceedings" in this Annual Report for a general description of our legal proceedings and claims and Note 15 to our consolidated financial statements and related notes, which are included elsewhere in this Annual Report, for a summary of specific legal proceedings under the captions "City of Providence Litigation," "LIBOR Litigation," "ICE Data Pricing & Reference Data Matter" and "SPAN Trademark Dispute". While ICE intends to vigorously defend these specific matters, the outcome of these legal proceedings cannot be determined and adverse rulings in these matters could impact our financial condition and continued operations.
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Further, we could incur significant expenses defending the claims mentioned above and any future claims, even those without merit, which could adversely affect our business, financial condition and operating results. An adverse resolution of any lawsuit or claim against us, including those we are involved with due to acquisition activity, may require us to pay substantial damages or impose restrictions on how we conduct business, either of which could adversely affect our business, financial condition and operating results. In addition, we may have to establish accruals for those matters in circumstances when a loss contingency is considered probable and the related amount is reasonably estimable. Any such accruals may be adjusted as circumstances change.
OPERATIONAL AND LIQUIDITY
Our systems and those of our third-party service providers may be vulnerable to cyberattacks, hacking and other cybersecurity risks, which could result in wrongful manipulation, disclosure, destruction, or use of our information or that of a third party, or which could make our participants unable or reluctant to use our electronic platforms.
The secure transmission of confidential information and the ability to reliably transact on our electronic platforms and provide financial data services are critical elements of our operations. Some of our products and services involve the storage and transmission of proprietary information and sensitive or confidential client and other data, including client portfolio information. If anyone gains improper access to our electronic platforms, networks or databases, they may be able to steal, publish, delete or modify our confidential information or that of a third party. Breaches of our cybersecurity measures or the accidental loss, inadvertent disclosure or unapproved dissemination of proprietary information or sensitive or confidential data about us, our clients or our customers, including the potential loss or disclosure of such information or data could expose us, our customers or the individuals affected to a risk of loss or misuse of this information, result in litigation, regulatory action and potential liability for us, damage our brand and reputation or otherwise harm our business. Our networks and those of our participants, third-party service providers and external market infrastructures may be vulnerable to compromise, unauthorized access, security technology failure, computer viruses, social engineering, denial of service attacks, terrorism, ransomware attacks, firewall or encryption failures or other security problems resulting in loss of data integrity, information disclosure, unavailability or fraud. The financial services industry has been targeted for purposes of political protest, activism and financial gain and our role in the global marketplace places us at greater risk than other public companies for cyberattack and other information security threats. Further, former employees of companies in the financial sector have misappropriated trade secrets or stolen source code in the past and we could be a target for such illegal acts in the future. There also may be system or network disruptions if new or upgraded systems are defective or not tested and installed properly.
Although we have not been subject to cyberattacks or other cyber incidents that have had a material impact on our operations or financial condition, we have from time to time experienced cybersecurity events including distributed denial of service, or DDoS, attacks, malware infections, phishing, web attacks and other information technology incidents that are typical for a financial services company of our size. For example, we experienced DDoS attempts, brand misuse, social media impersonation, and phishing attempts directed toward employee systems and personal email accounts during 2020. While we operate an Information Security program that is designed to prevent, detect, track and mitigate cyber incidents and that has detected and mitigated such incidents in the past, we cannot assure you that these measures will be sufficient to protect our business against future attacks. Any such attacks could result in reputational damage, cause system failures or delays that could cause us to lose customers, cause us to experience lower current and future trading volumes or incur significant liabilities or have a negative impact on our competitive position. In addition, given the increasing complexity and sophistication of the techniques used to obtain unauthorized access or disable or degrade systems, a cyberattack could occur and persist for an extended period of time before being detected, and we may not anticipate these acts or respond adequately or timely. The extent of a particular cyber incident and the steps that we may need to take to investigate the incident may not be immediately clear, and it may take a significant amount of time before such investigation can be completed and full and reliable information about the incident is known. While such an investigation is ongoing, we may not necessarily know the extent of the harm or how best to remediate it, which may compound damages before the incident is discovered or remediated. Additionally, as threats continue to evolve and increase, and as the regulatory environment related to information security, data collection and use, and privacy becomes increasingly rigorous, we may be required to devote significant additional resources to modify and enhance our security controls and to identify and remediate any security vulnerabilities, which could adversely impact our net income.
Following the acquisition of Ellie Mae, whose systems process and host millions of U.S. residential mortgages each year resulting in a larger attack surface, our exposure to personally identifiable information, or PII has increased. Failure to maintain the security of the confidential information of the customers of the users of our software and services could damage our reputation and brand and substantially harm our business and operating results.
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Further, cybersecurity threats to, and incidents involving, vendors and other third-parties who support our activities - particularly those with less-sophisticated defenses - could impact us. For example, although we did not experience any material impacts from the SolarWinds Orion cybersecurity breach that was widely publicized in December 2020, we cannot assure you that we will not experience future events that may be material.
Our business may be harmed by computer and communication systems failures and delays.
Our business depends on the integrity, reliability and security of our infrastructure which is highly dependent on our computer and communication systems. Our customers rely on us for the delivery of time-sensitive, up-to-date and high-quality financial market data, analytics and related solutions. Our timely, reliable delivery of high-quality products and services is dependent upon an array of technical production processes that enable our content delivery platforms. Our redundant systems or disaster recovery plans, including our ability to recover from the loss of one of our primary data centers, may prove to be inadequate in the event of a systems failure or cybersecurity breach. Our systems, or those of our third-party providers, may fail or be shut down or, due to capacity constraints, may operate slowly, causing one or more of the following:
unanticipated disruption in service to our participants;
slower response time and delays in our participants’ trade execution and processing;
failed settlement by participants to whom we provide trade confirmation or clearing services;
incomplete or inaccurate accounting, recording or processing of trades;
failure to complete the clearing house margin settlement process resulting in significant financial risk;
distribution of inaccurate or untimely market data to participants who rely on this data in their trading activity;
disruption to ICE Mortgage Technology and loan origination systems; and
financial loss to us or those who depend on our systems and data.
We have experienced system failures in the past due to telecommunication failures and hardware and software malfunctions and defects, and could experience future system failures due to power or telecommunications failures, human error on our part or on the part of our vendors or participants, natural disasters, fire, sabotage, hardware or software malfunctions or defects, computer viruses, cyberattacks, intentional acts of vandalism or terrorism and similar events. These situations could result in damage to our business reputation and participant dissatisfaction with our electronic platform, which could prompt participants to trade elsewhere or expose us to litigation or regulatory sanctions. As a consequence, our business, financial condition and operating results could suffer materially.
Our regulated business operations generally require that our trade execution and communications systems be able to handle anticipated present and future peak trading volume. Heavy use of computer systems during peak trading times or at times of unusual market volatility could cause those systems to operate slowly or even to fail for periods of time. However, we cannot assure you that our estimates of future trading volume will be accurate or that our systems will always be able to accommodate actual trading volume without failure or degradation of performance. If we cannot increase the capacity and capabilities of our systems to accommodate an increasing volume of transactions and to execute our business strategy, our ability to maintain or expand our businesses could be adversely affected.
An interruption or cessation of an important service, data or content supplied by any third party, or the loss of an exclusive license, could have a material adverse effect on our business.
We depend on a number of suppliers, such as online service providers, hosting service and software providers, data processors, data centers, software and hardware vendors, banks, local and regional utility providers, and telecommunications companies for elements of our trading, clearing, data services, mortgage technology applications and other systems. We rely on access to certain data used in our business through licenses with third parties, and we rely on a large international telecommunications company for the provision of hosting services. We also depend on third-party suppliers for data and content, including data received from certain competitors, clients, various government and public record services and financial institutions, used in our products and services. Some of this data is exclusive to particular suppliers and may not be obtained from other suppliers. In addition, our data suppliers could enter into exclusive contracts with our competitors without our knowledge. The general trend toward industry consolidation may increase the risk that these services may not be available to us in the future. If these companies were to experience difficulties, discontinue providing services to us for any reason or be unable to or fail to provide the type of service agreed to for any reason, we would likely experience significant disruption to our business and may be subject to litigation by our clients, increased regulatory scrutiny or regulatory fines or damage to our reputation. It could require a significant amount of time to
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transition to new third-party service providers. Our third-party data suppliers perform audits on us from time to time in the ordinary course of business to determine if data we license for redistribution has been properly accounted for in accordance with the terms of the applicable license agreement. As a result of these audits, we may incur additional expenses.
Many of our clients also rely on third parties to provide them with systems necessary to access our trading platform. If these companies were to discontinue providing services to our clients for any reason, we may experience a loss of revenue associated with our clients’ inability to transact with our businesses. We hold exclusive licenses to list various index futures and contracts. In the future, litigation or regulatory action may limit the right of owners to grant exclusive licenses for index futures and contracts trading to a single exchange, and our competitors may succeed in providing economically similar products in a manner or jurisdiction not otherwise covered by our exclusive license. MiFID II introduced a harmonized approach to the licensing of services relating to commodity derivatives across Europe and the legislation requires open access to any benchmarks (a benchmark is an index or other measure used to determine the value of a financial instrument, for example, LIBOR or the S&P 500) used in Europe. If unlicensed trading of any index product where we hold an exclusive license were permitted, we could lose trading volume for these products which would adversely affect our revenues associated with the license and the related index products.
Our success largely depends on key personnel, including our senior management, and having adequate succession plans in place. We may not be able to attract, retain and develop the highly skilled employees we need to support our business, which could harm our business.