We at Reference Data Review enjoyed our trip to this year’s ISIPS – the International Securities Industry Practitioners Symposium – event organised by STP Information Services in London. Reflecting the increased industry focus on reference data, the entire first day of the two-day event was given over to this very subject. Judging by the turnout, which was reportedly in excess of 700 over the course of the day, the organisers made a good call: the sessions were mostly packed out, and exhibitors generally reported a good buzz.
A good proportion of the sessions (all technically vendor presentations) provided discussions and descriptions of actual client implementations, and those speakers taking a more corporate line did so without overt product plugging – a refreshing change. In fact, there was a great deal of talk of ‘co-opetition’ among the vendors, both during the event and at the post-show socialising that is a con-comitant part of these events – though some are frank enough to admit that this is driven as much by the tight market conditions they all face as by any altruistic motives. There are worse market sectors to be in – which is, obviously, why there are many more suppliers of reference data solutions than there were a year ago – and there is more than just anecdotal evidence to go on. According to a Swift/ SmartStream survey, carried out by CityIQ, half of the industry is expecting to implement a significant degree of automation in the corporate actions processing area in the coming 12 months. That’s a lot of activity in a market that is supposed to be in the doldrums. Clearly, corporate actions are only part of the big picture. It is interesting to note some other distinctions that make the push for standards in reference data different from other earlier trends in the financial technology market. Whether you are looking at it from the business or technical perspective, or coming from the STP end or the data end, the boundaries are blurred – the old front-, middle- and back-office distinctions are long gone. A key aspect of these projects is the increasingly cross-border nature of them as we discuss in this issue: global in the case of Schroders and pan-European in the case of Daiwa. This trend can only continue. Other developments that will fuel future events include the drive to build the Holy Grail of unique instrument identifiers. In the meantime, we have the interesting spectacle of the largest data vendor in the world putting its proprietary codes up for adoption as standards. For a fee, of course, but it’s a start. Meanwhile, we are happy to announce that A-Team Consulting has forged a strategic alliance with our new Asia-based partners, Matrix Services Ltd. Under the arrangement, Matrix will make available its proprietary analysis of the Asian marketplace – filling an important gap in our coverage. This month, you can read Matrix’s view on the Japan market data marketplace in sister publication A-Team Insight.