A unified back office system with a centralised data management hub allows for the obvious benefits of global consistency of data, a reduction in operational costs (apart from the initial outlay) and the ability to meet risk management requirements, agreed panellists at SunGard’s City Day in London last week. Trevor Gatfield, head of securities operations at Investec, explained to attendees that his own firm operates with one trading system and one back office, which allows it high levels of STP, efficiency and the ability to deal with exceptions quickly. Fellow panellists from rather larger organisations Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) and HSBC noted that even though they have not reached this level of integration, they are working towards a single view of data across their organisations.
Cressida Hamilton, who is in charge of securities operations for fixed income and equities at HSBC, indicated that her firm is keen to realise the benefits of a globally consistent data management environment. To this end, the One HSBC programme has been running for a number of years and has involved the rationalisation of the group’s various data management teams into one centralised unit. It has also included the decision to move a large part of its reference data cleansing and management offshore to India and Kuala Lumpur.
“With one unified system in the back office there is no need for data reconciliation between different system fields and there is only one set of system deployments required for upgrades,” explained Hamilton of the tangible benefits of a centralised system.
Fellow panellist and global head of equity settlements at RBS Andrew Gibbons added that benefits could also be seen in increased consistency of client service for a global organisation and in scalability. He noted that RBS has been investing in its data architecture and that although the firm does not have one single database for all of its reference data, it has begun introducing intelligent workflow tools to get a view across these databases. In fact, the firm has just completed a large integration project focused on consolidating its entity data onto one database for its wholesale business.
Hamilton explained that HSBC is also working with a number of large legacy back office systems and is slowly moving towards a more integrated environment, but in the meantime, she contended that communication is key. “If you can’t have the same system across your business, then you need robust, real-time links between these systems for data exchange,” she said.
Communication, however, extends beyond technology to keeping all parties involved in the integration process, she added. For HSBC’s five year strategy, the focus has been on keeping clients in the loop and meeting their future needs. “It is also important to share information about best practices and experiences with your peers,” she added.