Swift is placing a sufficient level of importance on reference data issues, including corporate actions processing, judging by its work this year and the agenda for Sibos, says Neil Sheppard, managing director and chief operating officer in EMEA for vendor XSP. Discussions at the conference in Hong Kong in September will also likely include corporate actions issues due to their risk management implications, Sheppard explains to Reference Data Review.
“We’ll see continued focus on driving down costs, getting value for money from solutions and innovations and institutions seeking long term, high return flexible solutions,” he continues. “Corporate actions processing remains a hot topic due to its high risk nature and increasing levels of complexity and volume. It is also an area that is still the least automated in operations at global financial institutions.”
XSP is solely focused on the area of corporate actions and its decision to exhibit at Sibos is reflective of its faith that securities reference data issues remain relevant to both Swift and the delegation. “In the current volatile climate, the financial community is even more focused on maximising productivity, reducing costs and enhancing revenue returns whilst still managing risks, especially when it comes to corporate actions processing,” says Sheppard.
The vendor is attempting to up its game in the tough market conditions by working more closely with key market associations such as ISITC and Sifma. “Our active involvement as co-chair of the ISITC Corporate Actions Working Group, as well as other organisations including Sifma, allows us to brainstorm and collect feedback from industry market players in an effort to advocate standards that promote greater STP,” he says.
The vendor community in the corporate actions processing space has certainly changed over the last six months. There have been a number of new entrants, such cloud services specialist Xignite, and many existing vendors have significantly improved their service offerings via platform upgrades or made them more user friendly with new web-based interfaces. The focus seems to be on providing more value for money and software as a service (SaaS) is gaining ground within the space as a low cost alternative to lengthy in-house implementations.
Sheppard reckons the tough conditions in the market may impact attendance at Sibos but the key decision makers will still be there. “The current state of the market – combined with the Asian venue, which typically attracts a lower number of delegates and exhibitors compared to events held in North America and Europe – will likely affect attendance this year. However, Sibos continues to be one of the industry’s premier events covering important issues that need to be addressed. Whilst in the past, firms may send multiple attendees to Sibos; this year, they may opt to reduce the number of attendees at each organisation, yet still be represented,” he says.
According to XSP, the Asian region has great potential for corporate actions and this is a primary reason why it is keen to attend. “Our company has, over the last 18 months or so, seen an increased interest in our product from the Asia Pacific region. We have clients in this region and the feedback we’re seeing is that the appetite for proven automated solutions is high,” he claims. “The Asian setting is an exciting opportunity to network and continue discussions with delegates, existing clients and partners allowing vendors to showcase solutions that meet their unique requirements. Asia continues to be a key area of growth and strong focus for XSP.”
Sheppard is convinced that Swift recognises the importance of reference data, especially in these challenging economic times when volumes, costs and risks are intensifying. “Financial institutions also recognise corporate actions automation as a major initiative, as demonstrated by the high levels of activity that we are experiencing. They are looking to conserve their resources by increasing operational efficiencies and productivity whilst mitigating costs, promoting greater STP and as a result become more environmentally friendly by reducing unnecessary paper in their processes,” he adds.
Environmentally friendly and cost saving? A new marketing angle perhaps…?