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Even Corporate Actions Processing Needs to Keep up with the Xbox Generation, Says XSP’s Farrell

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Corporate actions solution vendor XSP’s recent decision to introduce a mobile application on which clients can view corporate actions notifications and can process responses and elections was prompted by client requests and the ability to keep up with the future requirements of the market, according to CEO Brendan Farrell. The focus has been on allowing clients to customise and configure the user interface themselves, much the same way iPhone applications are designed, thus reflecting the different requirements of the ultimate end users, he contends.

The vendor has offered a web-based solution, called eTran (which stands for Electronic Tracking Response and Notifications), since 2000 and Farrell indicates that around 21,000 clients are currently using the solution. The new Go! offering builds on the idea of making the XSP solution more accessible to end users by offering a readily available and intuitive front end. The hope is therefore to build on the popularity of innovative technology in the market and meet the future requirements of a generation that is used to dealing with this technology.

“There are a large range of internal and external users within a firm that need to consume and take actions on corporate actions data. By making our front end customisable by end users, they are able to tailor their experience to meet their particular requirements,” explains Farrell. The focus is therefore servicing both internal clients and those outside of the firm itself at what Farrell describes as the “farthest point”. He highlights the ability for middle office users and those in the private wealth business to be able to use their mobiles to take actions on data in a timely manner as a key benefit of Go!.

The vendor has been working on the solution since last Sibos, at which point it was compelled to examine how to configure client front ends by requests from clients at the show. The solution is therefore based on the current version (v5) of the XSP software and will be a key part of the vendor’s pitch at the conference this year. “We took a look at the presentation layer for the data and broke it down into components that can be selected by users to make up a customised front end,” explains Farrell.

Dan Retzer, managing director and chief technology officer at the vendor, adds: “We had to rethink what the XSP solution was capable of doing and we built the offering round a service oriented architecture (SOA) to transform it from a point product to a service delivery product. There are 170 web services in the application that we have separated out from the front end that allow the user to add their own graphical elements such as a dashboard for corporate actions data.”

The use of a specific toolkit and a rules engine means that the whole XSP product is not available via the mobile functionality: it uses a smaller subset of data for specific purposes. The biggest challenge of all this work, according to Retzer, was in designing a simple interface that provides enough information to these users to take action.

Farrell points to some of the releases of mobile technology for the front office as examples of how the industry is moving forward to meet the needs of the “Xbox generation”. He explains: “Financial services firms are now realising the need to catch up with technology and a lot of the focus at the moment is on portable technologies.”

At the other end of the scale, the vendor is also keeping a close eye on the developments to do with XBRL adoption for corporate actions issuer documents. Paul Fullam, senior director of business strategy at the vendor, reckons XBRL will work well for mandatory events but may struggle in the area of voluntary event types going forward with regards to adoption. He also notes that although the US has the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is driving forward change in the US, Europe doesn’t have a central body with the same level of power to drive forward change across the region. The provision of an incentive to change (which is the focus of the Swift, XBRL US and DTCC initiative) will therefore be key for European progress.

However, Farrell notes that as a solution vendor, the XBRL changes will not represent a significant challenge for its own business. Apart from some additional work to add in new XBRL formats at the start of the corporate actions lifecycle, it will not likely prove much of a challenge for downstream processes, he says.

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