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IPUG Ramps up Lobbying Activities, Targets Bloomberg as First on a Long List of Vendors Under the Spotlight

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The Information Providers User Group’s (IPUG) last annual general meeting saw the confirmation of the main deliverables for the group over the next year, including the highlighting of a number of vendor solutions to come under the group’s scrutiny. One of IPUG’s key activities of late has been the lobbying of the vendor community and the group has recently sent an open letter to data giant Bloomberg to argue for its symbology to be included in FOW TRADEdata service Xymbology.

Bloomberg has been pitching itself as an “open” data provider and launched its Bloomberg Open Symbology (Bsym) initiative last year and has since signed an agreement with NYSE Euronext to include its Bsym codes on NYSE’s data feed products globally. IPUG is looking for a similar agreement to be signed with derivatives market specialist FOW TRADEdata. The identifiers concerned are those used in the Bloomberg Professional service and those underlying its suite of enterprise data products.

This is reflective of the general desire within the user community for lower costs and easier access to instrument identifiers that have until now been largely proprietary to individual data providers. As noted recently by Paul Bodart, executive vice president and head of EMEA global operations at BNY Mellon Asset Servicing, the industry is eagerly awaiting the final judgement of the European Commission on its investigation into Cusip Global Services’ (CGS) pricing of US ISINs, which began back in 12 January last year, and more details about investigations into Thomson Reuters codes. There has also been a rumour circulating round the market of late that Markit’s RED codes are coming under some degree of scrutiny by the regulatory community, although this has yet to be confirmed.

“Firms should not have to pay more than basic maintenance costs for the creation of securities and client codes,” Bodart told Reference Data Review last month, thus summing up the general mood within the industry over the last couple of years.

IPUG’s lobbying activities with Bloomberg are, however, just one of its agenda items this year. The group has introduced new quarterly roundtable member discussions in order to feed into the group’s individual special interest group (SIG) activities. These will largely focus on aspects of vendors’ services and the associated technology requirements; hence will likely boost IPUG’s lobbying activities.

The main vendor SIG meetings occur around two or three times a year for each main vendor and around 17 points for discussion have already been defined. The list thus far includes: discussion of Bloomberg’s new Alpha product and research portal offerings, as well as its data feed plans; a review of FactSet’s front office desktop and research portal products; a look at Interactive Data’s evaluated pricing services; discussion of Lipper’s new services and pricing policy changes; and a complete review of all of Markit’s product lines.

The group will also examine: the Markets.Com’s broker research and earnings research portal; the pricing and transparency of FTSE’s products; recently merged MSCI and RiskMetrics’ plans for its Barra, RiskMetrics and MSCI product offerings; S&P’s Benchmarking, Ratings and Capital IQ research offerings; SuperDerivatives’ pricing services in comparison to the rest of the market; Telekurs’ evaluated pricing and front office offerings; and Thomson Reuters’ overall product set, including Eikon.

Given the state of the job market, IPUG is also planning to set up a headhunters section on its website to provide information to those recruiting and those seeking new employment.

As for new faces at IPUG itself, new IPUG coordinator Clare Livermore has been recruited to assist with invoicing, SIG arranging and minute taking, newsletter compilation, event management and web updates. She replaces Carole Still, managing director of SB Skills, who was previously part-time IPUG coordinator for the executive committee. The positions on the executive committee are mostly voluntary, apart from the coordinator and treasurer roles.

The following members were also proposed and seconded during the AGM: Graham Downie (chairman) from Standard Life Investments Limited; Nick John as PGDS floating chair; Justin Bush from Credit Suisse as Thomson Reuters chair; David Berry from UBS as benchmark supplier and related SIG chairs; Deborah McAdams as joint buy and sell side chair; Martin Wilson as IPUG treasurer; Iman Szeto from JPMorgan Chase as reference data chair; Hardeep Rai as buy side chair; Charles Kenton from Commerzbank as Bloomberg chair; and Meg Dillon from BNP Paribas as Markit and FactSet chair.

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