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The ECB’s Reference Data Utility: Evidently a Controversial Topic…

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The European Central Bank’s (ECB) proposed reference data utility seems to have caught the attention of a lot of Reference Data Review readers out there. While most are in support of standardisation in the reference data space in general, many are confused and, frankly, concerned about what the ECB is planning.

On reader in particular, who shall remain anonymous, had some particularly interesting thoughts on the matter: “Having heard Francis Gross speak at the Xtrakter conference earlier this year my understanding is that the ECB initiative is based on automobile industry best practice where quality is instilled at the earliest point possible. Hence the logic to create a new utility data creation source that ensures consistent standards for all securities. However, given the wide range of instruments and vendor value added fields ‘baked in’ to the business process, wouldn’t it perhaps be more feasible to use ECB’s clout to define and enforce industry standards for core data attributes that must be supported by all sources and vendors? In that way the industry could gravitate towards standards over time as part of existing change activity.”

This is certainly a point I will be raising with Gross, the director general of the ECB’s statistics division, at this year’s Sibos in Hong Kong, during which I will be chairing a panel on the subject (see here for more details). The same reader mentioned above has suggested a number of questions he would like me to pose to Gross during the panel and I’m keen for other readers out there to send me any questions they feel should be answered on the subject.

The reader questions so far (not including those I shall be posing) are as follows: Is it really feasible to add a data creation step for all instrument types globally without suffering any delays to end consumers? Will the ECB solution just cover core instrument attributes or will it manage the full range of front office analytics, classifications, issued share capital, ratings and issuers that the main vendors currently provide? How can we be sure that this proposal would not simply add yet another point of failure to the existing data industry behemoth? I would encourage you all to get writing in!

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