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Sitting Up and Taking Notice

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Finally, the world seems to be paying attention to what industry protagonists have been saying about the reference data marketplace for what now seems like quite some time: that reference data is important to your business, no matter what it is.

Maybe it’s because the protagonists have become more sophisticated. We were encouraged to hear about the FISD’s ‘Four Pillars of Reference Data Standards,’ as presented to the Securities Industry Association by Mike Atkin last month. Pointing out that the overall goal is “a common market data infrastructure for securities processing automation,”

Atkin described the four pillars thus: 1. Identify all financial instruments with precision (multiple listings). 2. Identify all business entities for processing efficiency, regulatory compliance and risk mitigation. 3. Identify all data elements associated with a financial instrument lifecycle with absolute precision (standard terms, definitions and relationships). 4. Define a common distribution protocol for efficient and accurate processing. This kind of definition of reference data activities can only help the user community realize that it’s a serious business.

It seems to be happening. First, London’s Exchange Data International (EDI) let slip that it signed up 20 new customers in the first two months of the year. Not bad. Then, we spoke to Ken Johnson of the State of Wisconsin Investment Board’s decision to build a reference data management platform around Eagle Investment Systems’ Eagle Reference Manager system. And finally, we got wind of a major win in New York – stay tuned, as we like to say – for a relative newcomer to the space, as well as of a spate of requests for proposal – ditto – in both New York and London. A clue to how seriously the industry is now taking the various standard work going on is yielded by a glance at the list of active participants in the SIA’s Standards & Protocol Working Group:

  • Norm Allen (Bear Stearns)
  • Michael Atkin (FISD/MDDL, X9D, ISO TC68/SC4, REDAC, UII Working Group)
  • John Bottega (Credit Suisse First Boston)
  • Mary Dupay (Goldman Sachs)
  • Cecilia Holden (Merrill Lynch)
  • Steve Kelly (Goldman Sachs, Reference Data Coalition/REDAC)
  • Kevin Smith (Bank of New York, ISITC IOA)
  • Steven Lachaga (JPMorgan)
  • Simon Leighton-Porter (Citigroup, RDUG)
  • James Leman (who recently joined SunGard/Brass from Citigroup)
  • Sandy Throne (DTCC, X9D, ISO TC68/SC4)
  • John Panchery (SIA)
  • Brad Smith (Capco)
  • Judy Smith (Morgan Stanley)
  • Sanjay Vasta (Merrill Lynch Asset Management)
  • John White (State Street Global Advisors)

Whichever way you look at it, the group is not too shabby. Its particip-ants underscore the commitment the major firms are making to the initiative. Surely, with this level of support, the efforts to introduce workable standards must be successful.

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