About a-team Marketing Services
The knowledge platform for the financial technology industry
The knowledge platform for the financial technology industry

A-Team Insight Blogs

Spreadsheets: Empowering Users while Managing Operational Risk

Subscribe to our newsletter

By Brian Sentance, CEO, Xenomorph

I read a great piece in the FT by Lisa Pollack recently about the future of spreadsheets and their potential to bridge the gap between those of us who don’t program and those that do. The piece referred to the broad global community of more than 750 million Excel users – many of whom use spreadsheets for relatively simple tasks like record keeping.

But within the financial services industry, I feel spreadsheets have already bridged much of the gap between business users and developers. From equity analysts constructing company valuation models or fixed income analysts modelling the impact of prepayment risk, through to financial advisors putting together a retirement plan, spreadsheets have really empowered market professionals. Their sheer flexibility, ease of use and ever-growing range of statistical functions and operations has enabled many core, and often fairly complex, business processes to run inside them.

However, spreadsheets also suffer from some key vulnerabilities:

1) They are difficult to control. Unlike server-side technology, they are harder to lock down and the risk that mission critical information is lost or altered, either accidentally or through malicious intent, tends to be a real concern to operational risk managers.

2) They typically run outside enterprise data management (EDM) processes and controls, and are therefore dependent on a single vendor’s invalidated data as an input. Equally, the output of their calculations is not validated.

3) They are not always that scalable, particularly when it comes to handling real-time datasets and complex calculations. As a client-side technology, they tend to be restricted both in terms of processing horsepower and I/O.

The dilemma facing most firms is therefore: how do you maintain the benefits of spreadsheet usage while addressing its drawbacks? This was a problem that many of our clients had struggled with. They wanted to take models that had been developed in Excel and port them over to an environment that included the right data validation checks and EDM processes. They also wanted their models to run on technology that was robust, auditable and offered the right levels of access control given the critical nature of some of their calculations.

That’s why over several years we developed our SpreadSheet Inside (SSI) technology and incorporated it into TimeScape EDM+. SSI allows our customers to port spreadsheet calculations into a secure, audited environment, where both data inputs and the output of the calculation can be run through proper data validation checks. By enabling out-of-the-box integration with leading pricing and analytics platforms like Numerix and Fincad, we ensure our customers can support even the most sophisticated models and functions.

Finally, TimeScape EDM+ also includes Excel add-ins, so if an end user insists on maintaining their final models in Excel, they can at least feed them with data that has been validated. For more information, please download our White Papers outlining the operational risks of spreadsheet usage, and how TimeScape EDM+ mitigates those risks.

Subscribe to our newsletter

Related content

WEBINAR

Upcoming Webinar: The roles of cloud and managed services in optimising enterprise data management

Date: 14 May 2024 Time: 10:00am ET / 3:00pm London / 4:00pm CET Duration: 50 minutes Cloud and managed services go hand-in-hand when it comes to modern enterprise data management (EDM), but how can the best solutions for the business be selected and implemented to ensure optimal data management based on accurate, consistent, and high-quality...

BLOG

Pensions Insurance Corporation Selects FINBOURNE Cloud-Native Data Management Platform

Following a market review, Pension Insurance Corporation (PIC) has chosen FINBOURNE Technology to provide investment data management capabilities that will help drive its data strategy. PIC, a specialist UK pension insurer, manages a portfolio of about £45 billion and provides guaranteed pensions to over 300,000 people in the UK. It will use FINBOURNE’s cloud-native financial...

EVENT

TradingTech Briefing New York

Our TradingTech Briefing in New York is aimed at senior-level decision makers in trading technology, electronic execution, trading architecture and offers a day packed with insight from practitioners and from innovative suppliers happy to share their experiences in dealing with the enterprise challenges facing our marketplace.

GUIDE

Valuations – Toward On-Demand Evaluated Pricing

Risk and regulatory imperatives are demanding access to the latest portfolio information, placing new pressures on the pricing and valuation function. And the front office increasingly wants up-to-date valuations of hard-to-price securities. These developments are driving a push toward on-demand evaluated pricing capabilities, with pricing teams seeking to provide access to valuations at higher frequency...