Thomson Reuters has just completed the integration work involved in allowing Black Mountain Systems’ portfolio management system Everest clients to access the data giant’s DataScope Select pricing and reference data. Brian Buzzelli, head of pricing and reference data for the Americas region at Thomson Reuters, explains the details of the customised data integration process, which was kicked off at the request of Black Mountain clients.
To provide a bit of background, Black Mountain Systems provides a portfolio management system that has a number of major capabilities, covering basic portfolio management, analytical tools for credit analysis, execution and transaction over the platform and order management. Buzzelli notes that it also has a fairly detailed workflow process for trading that allows investment professionals and compliance officers to authorise transactions.
On the deal itself, he explains: “We’re very excited about the integration of DataScope pricing and reference data into the Everest platform due to increased client demand for Thomson Reuters content.”
Buzzelli, who joined the DataScope team back in 2007 and has been a champion of its capabilities from its pre-merger Reuters days, says that the customised data integration to DataScope makes it far easier for Black Mountain clients to retrieve reference data for a whole host of securities including equity and fixed income, and to pull in pricing. “Black Mountain is certainly the preferred platform for bank loans and has expanded to serve the broader fixed income markets. Since fixed income falls into the non-exchange traded category, evaluated pricing provides an opportunity to see the value of the position held and the ability to move to buy new instruments. The request/retrieve capability is good for investment professionals seeking to retrieve only the data that they need to use,” he continues.
The overall integration lasted several weeks and Buzzelli explains the result: “Our API is embedded in DataScope Select and this creates operational and technical efficiency for interfacing with Everest.”.
This integration fits into the data giant’s plans to expand the reach of its pricing and reference data capabilities beyond the back office, which sits within the overall restructure at the vendor that has been going on since the merger. “We continue to increase our focus in servicing the full spectrum of the investment process, which includes the front office,” says Buzzelli, on how the move fits into the overall picture. “We have historically been looked to as a provider of full scale, global security reference data and pricing, and that has traditionally been in the area of end of day pricing for valuation. However, Black Mountain is very much a front office portfolio management platform provider, focused on the investment manager, the research analyst and traders.”
He explains that the vendor is therefore driving towards greater integration with front office platforms like Black Mountain. “The client benefits from seamless integration and consistent pricing and reference data content through front to mid and back office functions and applications,” he elaborates.
“We’re seeing more demand for extended reference data and analytics from this front office user group. The front office needs more than just the identifier and the name of a security; it needs extended data to conduct research processes and investment analysis to make investment decisions. We see a great alignment with the global cross asset foundation we have at Thomson Reuters in addition to the extended reference data sets we have available,” he continues.
The vendor’s initial integration focus is on pricing and reference data via DataScope Select, however Buzzelli explains that Thomson Reuters would certainly like to see an expansion in that content provision to extended data such as legal entity data, fundamentals and estimates further down the path.
“We’ve been very active in the legal entity space and in terms of content capability in the Everest system at the moment, this data is not being fully utilised yet. We are happy to service that requirement for Black Mountain clients should they wish to receive additional transparency around legal entity data for risk and exposure analysis. There is the ability to identify, via the compliance component in Everest, individual legal entities that are issuing equities in order to set compliance rules. Legal entity is not our initial focus but the whole industry is looking in that direction at the moment,” he says.
Certainly, this fits in with the vendor’s launch of its expanded legal entity data solution back in September, which saw the increase of its data coverage to nearly 1 million entities. This followed a move by rival Bloomberg earlier in the year to launch similar capabilities and has since been succeeded by efforts by other rival vendors hoping to gain traction in the legal entity space.
On the partnership front, Buzzelli explains that the vendor is keen to sign more partnerships with these kinds of front office solution providers. “We certainly have engaged with some of the major names within front office portfolio management platform and technology providers in order to add on interfacing with DataScope content. Some of those are the recognised names in the order management system (OMS) space,” he says.
As for the ongoing restructuring within the vendor itself (a topic that has been raised frequently of late), Buzzelli says: “There is an organisational restructuring process that is going on at the moment to flatten and simplify Thomson Reuters to make it easier for clients to work with us. This translates into the consolidation of certain products and platforms for clients to understand how to access our content and create a better client experience. One of those dimensions is to make DataScope a strategic platform for the distribution of that content to the front, middle and back offices of our clients. A lot of investment professionals don’t want to have to deal with the nuts and bolts of data mapping and integration, they want to focus their time and attention on the investment decision process.”
Exactly how this flattened infrastructure turns out will likely be a subject of some discussion over the months to come.