KBC Bank & Insurance Group has begun to implement a major reference data project using Fame Information Services’ ReferencePoint system. Fame has also been contracted to customise and implement the system under a fixed-price, fixed-delivery-date contract.
As part of its risk management strategy KBC, headquartered in Brussels, will be using ReferencePoint to integrate multiple data sources, including Reuters, Bloomberg and a range of internal data sources from different operations, for cleansing and dissemination across its internal systems.
KBC has been a user of Fame systems for some two years, says Gos Willems, a KBC official involved in the project. “Fame has made the product much better, so this is like an upgrade, but it is so large that we are looking at it as a totally new product,” he says.
Part of the implementation involves the customisation of ReferencePoint’s standard data cleansing routines to KBC’s requirements. As well as building custom interfaces to existing systems, this will also mean changing some of the definitions used in the standard ReferencePoint algorithms to match KBC’s data structures. A separate part of the process will be to migrate an existing in-house application used for data enrichment to the new platform.
“Fame allows you to change the system to your own needs, which is what we are doing,” says Willems. “We are building on the experience of the past to improve our models.” He says that the systems will be used to feed scrubbed data to risk management systems across the bank’s entire trading operations, but declines to comment on further future expansion in to other areas of the bank’s operations.
The new contract was signed at the beginning of the month, with implementation work starting almost immediately. John Wallis, head of European sales at Fame, says that full installation is scheduled for completion by the first quarter of next year, depending on the length of the testing period. “We are aiming for early in the year,” says Willems.
“We have begun the development and customisation work for KBC, which will take a couple of months,” he says. “That will be followed by a period of implementation and testing towards the end of the year, and there will be a further period where they will be dual-running with the existing systems before switching over.” Neither Wallis nor Willems would give details of the platforms on which the software will be running. It is understood, however, that the implementation will involve interfacing to an existing middleware platform for interfacing to other parts of the bank’s IT systems.
According to Wallis, Fame has now adopted the “fixed-price, fixed-delivery” contract as standard practice. “We’re doing it because we can,” he says. “It’s a good proposition for clients because it removes a huge element of project risk.”
The KBC Group is one of the largest financial groups in Belgium, formed in June 1998 after the merger of Kredietbank, a retail and corporate bank, CERA Bank, a co-operative bank, and ABB, an insurance company. It has operations in more than 30 countries and some 43,000 employees worldwide. Among other things, it is one of the largest European investors in Eastern European countries, says a spokesperson, a factor that makes its risk management operations central to the business.
But Fame is hopeful that it will lead to further business in other areas of KBC operations internationally, including asset management, which is an area that Fame has begun to target.
Earlier this year, Fame forged an alliance with U.K. asset management database specialist Digital Innovation Systems to market Fame’s ReferencePoint Solution for Asset Management, a version of ReferencePoint developed specifically for retail, institutional, and private client asset managers. Digital Innovation specialises in asset management databases across all asset types.
According to Dennis Slattery, CEO of Digital Innovation, asset managers’ vital information – such as holdings instrument pricing, corporate actions data, portfolio valuations, and CRM information – are distributed over many internal systems. Because of this, they are forced to invest enormous time and resources integrating and reconciling data for client reporting, regulatory approval, internal MIS and to remove internal inefficiencies such as STP failure.