Finadium report on ISDA’s Common Domain Model and the Digitization of Collateral

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Finadium recently spoke to Bimal Kadikar, CEO of Transcend, regarding the adoption of ISDA’s Common Domain Model (CDM) by market participants. Finadium’s new report, published by Josh Galper, Managing Principal, evaluates the role of CDM to solve business problems for collateralized trading markets and its potential to standardize data elements across the derivatives lifecycle. Bimal commented on the pace of industry adoption:

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In five years, 90% of funding will be done by machines

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You may disagree with the number of years or the percent, but everyone understands that automation in the funding and collateral space is occurring at a fast pace. The question is how you prepare for this inevitable future? Our view is that connecting data from disparate sources is the key to the next evolution in the funding markets. A guest post from Transcend. Read more

Transcend shortlisted for FTF News Technology Innovation Awards ‘Best Collateral Management Solution’

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As firms look for ways to increase efficiency and reduce risk across the business, collateral often remains gridlocked. Transcend’s Collateral Management & Optimization solutions help firms completely redefine how they manage collateral – leading to increased liquidity, lower costs and greater compliance.

In recognition of our innovative approach, FTF has shortlisted Transcend for ‘Best Collateral Management Solution’ in the FTF News Technology Innovation Awards 2019, which celebrate noteworthy progress and achievements in operational excellence over the past year.

You can help decide who wins by voting here – look for Transcend Street Solutions in category 7, ‘Best Collateral Management Solution’. Voting closes on April 12.

Many thanks for your support!

Collateral management: A path littered with obstacles

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As collateral rules have grown in complexity, so has the need for greater optimization – But as Tim Steele [of Funds Europe] discovers, achieving that can be painful.

Collateral has long been used as a tool for mitigating counterparty risk and obtaining credit, but now more than ever, it is the key determinant of an institution’s ability to engage in financial transactions in the cash or derivatives markets….

“If you optimize every pool or silo individually, as a firm you will by design not be optimized,” says Bimal Kadikar.

Read the full article from Funds Europe

Risktech start-ups struggle to clinch big-bank contracts

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Start-ups are widely reckoned to have a one in 10 chance of survival. For start-ups in the field of risk management, the odds are probably a little worse: the field has all the withering mortality of the ordinary start-up, plus the special hell of being small, agile and captive to the sluggish metabolism of a big bank.

For now, it’s not stopping them. Hoping for a big payoff, this group of disruptors is looking to upend risk management with their products, addressing things from transaction monitoring and trade reporting, to IFRS 9 and model validation.

Read the full article on Risk.net

 

 

Revisiting the Importance of Inventory Management in Collateral and Liquidity

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In this article in Securities Finance Monitor, Transcend’s CEO Bimal Kadikar discusses the opportunities for more effective liquidity and collateral management – and the potential benefits to the bottom line. A solid starting point is inventory management whereby firms can match collateral to needs, improve front-to-back office communications and increase operational efficiency and compliance.

Inventory management is a cornerstone of securities finance, funding and collateral management, but often gets little attention until it is too late. This should not be the case, as inventory management is the first thing that buy-side and sell-side firms should pay attention to when getting serious about collateral and liquidity management. Inventory management is the foundation on which efficient businesses are built, including putting context around a firm’s positions.

Theoretically, it should be possible to aggregate data easily, then buy or build technology to run reports and connect to counterparties later on. After all, there many vendors with algorithms and reports that help a user select the right collateral to deliver. Likewise, there are many ways to connect to the market, between point to point connectivity, FTP, SWIFT and cloud intranets. However, this plan does not always work out well in practice. The development of mono-line systems and use cases means that unless inventory and trade data is harmonized across the enterprise first, reports and counterparty connectivity largely falls short of expectations.

The common challenge that vendors and clients face is how comprehensive and normalized is the information being collected. A collateral management system with only 50% of a firm’s available position and inventory data is less than 50% effective at its objective: successfully delivering the right collateral at the right time or incentivizing the right business behavior to reduce costs, including better risk management.

The natural response to this situation is to collect all pockets of inventory into one pool so traders and allocators of collateral can pull information on all activity and holdings from a single source. This is the point where most firms pause. For example, do they know where all their inventory information is held and in what form across products and geographies? Are all the pricing sources across inventory consistent, or did they grow up independently because of divisions or acquisitions? Do collateral managers know the details behind vast amounts of security line items, CUSIPs and ISINs to make smart decisions? The inventory management organization process can be the start of a reasonably large project.

Why invest strategically?

It often takes an external stimulus to get serious about strategic inventory management; recent mandates for effective liquidity and collateral management are good examples. But it can’t just sound good on paper: the benefits need to be impactful to the bottom line. As a result, it is often helpful to conduct a cost-benefit analysis that shows what is at stake. As a one-time exercise, this can demonstrate the payback on inventory management. We have seen this in practice across multiple firms that initially looked at collateral management technology for reports and straight-through processing, then came to find that the more inventory was available in the system that significant returns could be generated. These returns can more than pay for the cost of an inventory management and optimized collateral technology system combined.

Regulators across the globe have increased their scrutiny on collateral management as well. As part of the Recovery & Resolution Planning and/or Reg YY collateral management requirements, firms have to prove enterprise level collateral and liquidity management capabilities. Very few firms can claim compliance to these requirements in an automated way and will require significant changes in the overall platform. This could be a great opportunity for firms to invest in enterprise level real-time inventory management capabilities that will help them comply with regulatory pressures but also provide significant business and operational benefits for the firm.

Tracking monetary value to collateral utilization

Proper inventory management requires the ability to efficiently utilize collateral by knowing what positions are available at any given time along with having rich context around each position (see Exhibit 1). The context includes for how long will a position be available; who is the owner; is the position owned by the firm or a client; can it be rehypothecated; and where can it be pledged at the lowest haircut. This enrichment process is largely still not conducted by every firm. More often, a lack of understanding the value of collateral results in the asset owner simply losing out with no benefit to anyone else, and a net loss to the market as assets are tied up for the duration of a trade.

Exhibit 1: Generating results from robust inventory management

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Source: Transcend Street Solutions

A robust view of collateral also means that front to back office communications become more precise and efficient, especially across global firms with different pools of assets. A successful inventory management process can reduce operational duplications, as one operations team can now see and manage one aggregated set of information about the firm’s holdings. More information on inventory means that front office traders can have a real-time window into what collateral is available to trade or post. This is a central tenet of the collateral trading business and serves to augment a trader’s opportunities in the marketplace.

Enhanced optimization opportunities

As firms create central collateral funding desks, reliable inventory management enables the efficient allocation of collateral for proper matching of sources and uses. This means matching the right asset with the right liability. Doing so could mean real savings to both capital and liquidity. But having the best model is only as good as one’s ability to see the full collateral picture. A robust inventory management platform should improve only the visibility into the quantity of collateral held across an organization. It should also improve the confidence and ability of the organization to take actions based on that improved transparency. This better information will incentive trading behavior to maximize financial efficiencies comprehensively across balance sheet, funding and liquidity. Conversely, a collateral shortfall or poor data means that a funding trader is more likely to look outside the firm to access supply, likely resulting in increased balance sheet costs and capital usage.

In a real-world example of how collateral optimization works best with effective inventory management, a collateral manager may want or need to post G7 government bonds as collateral. Presuming five different collateral pools, there are multiple scenarios that can occur:

  1. With visibility into one collateral pools:
    1. The manager would have a limited inventory to source, resulting in few options and the potential need to look outside the firm.
    2. The manager may need to use cash, which would remove the firm’s investment options in other business areas.
    3. The manager could elect to repo in government bonds or borrow in a securities loan to post as collateral. Depending on the scarcity of the government bonds, they could either be paid to lend cash or be obligated to pay to borrow.
  2. With visibility into all five collateral pools:
    1. The manager could evaluate the cost of collateral pre-trade at an affiliate and borrow that collateral in exchange for a known fee that can be priced into a transaction in advance.
      1. This pre-trade analysis can become part of the daily operational trading activities of the firm.
    2. The manager and a collateral operations teams have a better opportunity to allocate cheapest to deliver collateral across all pledge requirements. Avoiding the need to go outside firm helps minimizes balance sheet and RWA costs.

Real-time operational efficiencies

Aggregating collateral yields operational benefits that may be difficult to quantify up front but that result in long-term benefits to the firm. A visibility into position breaks and errors in real time means faster response times to fails. In an era where repeated and unresolved fails have a direct financial impact, faster resolution of fails means money saved in the form of reduced operational RWA, better customer satisfaction, a reduced number of delivery instructions and a faster escalation when greater risks are identified.

Inventory management provides a framework to address typically buried settlement and operations risk. The ability to see and think through potential pitfalls that may have been hidden as a result of lack of inventory clarity gives both the front and back office more precise decision-making capabilities. This allows for root cause analysis of breaks and errors, ideally leading to a virtual elimination of the most frequent causes of fails.

The result of improved operational efficiency means lower collateral turnover and the costs this entails. Our clients also report an improved experience for clients and counterparties in the collateralized trading process. Greater operational efficiencies have a direct and positive outcome of the trading process.

A wider benefit to the firm

Inventory management projects can often be a starting point to greater benefits for a financial services firm. I have already mentioned operational and pricing benefits, but these are just the start. Once an inventory consolidation project is underway, firms may find duplicate vendors and functional roles that can be reorganized as cost savings measures. They may also find that additional trading and portfolio management opportunities appear as a result of better information flows. Inventory management can be difficult to consider, especially for complex institutions, but the financial, operational and risk management benefits are nearly always worth the effort.

This article was originally published on Securities Finance Monitor.
To download this article, please click here.

An interview with Bimal Kadikar, CEO of Transcend Street Solutions

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“Transcend Street Solutions is establishing itself as an innovative player in the collateral and liquidity technology space. We spoke with CEO and founder Bimal Kadikar to learn more about what Transcend is doing and how it sees the evolving market.” – Josh Galper, Securities Finance Monitor

Read the full interview with Securities Finance Monitor

Collateral and Liquidity Data Management: the next big challenge for financial institutions

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The problem is well known: financial institutions have data all over the place. Small institutions tend to face straight-forward challenges, while large ones must identify not only where data are hidden but how can it be aggregated without disrupting other processes. Thankfully, new advances in collateral and liquidity technology are ready to make solutions cost-effective and relatively painless to implement.

Imagine these scenarios that require data:

  • Regulators are mandating reporting that looks at all assets of a corporation, both on and off balance sheet, across every subsidiary and geography. How does a central reporting group collect the information?
  • Sales traders and their clients are cautious about balance sheet charges. How can a sales trader tell a client about the netting opportunities in a trade compared to existing holdings?
  • Large institutions have recently created central collateral funding desks. How can a trading division know what collateral is available internally to commit to a counterparty and how much it will cost?

These are all situations where data aggregation and management can play a pivotal role, saving substantial time and effort and opening doors to enhanced revenue opportunities.

The Four Vs of Collateral Management Data

The obstacles to effective collateral data management today begin with the sheer volume and dispersal of data around the world. This is in some ways a ‘Big Data’ problem, albeit with industry-specific twists.
We see four Vs at work in collateral and liquidity data management:

  • Volume – the volume of data that must be managed reaches the gigabytes and terabytes for any financial institution of at least moderate size. The bigger the institution, the greater still the volume of information that must be captured and analyzed.
  • Variety – collateral and liquidity data do not come standardized in a pre-packaged format. Instead, users must contend with multiple forms of data that ultimately get combined to provide the right report or picture for taking action. This can happen with both internal and external data sources.
  • Velocity – data move fast, and every new trade in financial markets means that something has changed in an institution’s holdings, whether the value of stocks owned, the need for a collateral call or the credit limit of a counterparty.
  • Veracity – its great to have all data in one place but how can users be sure that the data are accurate? Users need a way to verify the integrity of data across the enterprise.

Four Vs of Collateral Management

Existing Solutions

While institutions have largely solved these problems for single business or legal entities in one legal jurisdiction, the problem is not close to being solved once the boundaries get beyond this limited scope. For example, getting US OTC derivatives to communicate with UK secured funding across different IT systems and countries can be difficult in silos, let alone ensuring that technology solutions work together.

The financial markets industry has recognized the difficulty of collateral management and is supporting initiatives and utilities meant to solve the problem. DTCC-Euroclear GlobalCollateral Ltd is launching the Margin Transit Utility (MTU), which aims to aggregate a firm’s holdings across all custodians and Central Securities Depositories. This is a great start, but even if all market participants and depositories agree to connect to the MTU, firms will need to integrate this information internally and feedback information externally. That will require a significant work effort across the board and even in the best-case scenario will take time.

Most technology providers also have excellent solutions for calculating data and managing positions but rely on the client to already deliver data internally. This is the same data problem once again: even the best collateral management system is made less effective by incomplete, unreliable data inputs. So, technology solutions need to evolve that allow connecting and harmonizing data across multiple silos more easily and without requiring major multi-year re-engineering efforts.

Case Study: Recovery and Resolution Reporting

While the problems inherent in daily trading operations are readily understood, the importance of collateral and liquidity data management grows even larger when considering regulatory reporting requirements. In one example, the Federal Reserve’s SR14-1 recovery and resolution plan reporting processes for banks highlights the critical need for robust data management. According to a January 24, 2014 supervisory letter, the eight largest US banks should have:

  • Effective processes for managing, identifying, and valuing collateral it receives from and posts to external parties and affiliates;
    A comprehensive understanding of obligations and exposures associated with payment, clearing, and settlement activities;
  • The ability to analyze funding sources, uses, and risks of each material entity and critical operation, including how these entities and operations may be affected under stress;
  • Demonstrated management information systems capabilities for producing certain key data on a legal entity basis that is readily retrievable, with controls in place to ensure data integrity and reliability; and
  • Robust arrangements in place for the continued provision of shared or outsourced services needed to maintain critical operations that are documented and supported by legal and operational frameworks.

Four out of five of these bullet points speak directly to data management. There can really be no question: it is not only a good business practice for banks to have active collateral and liquidity data management problems, it is also a legal requirement under SR14-1.

Case Study: Central Collateral Trading Desks

As collateral visibility, management and optimization have grown in importance due to regulatory and/or economic pressures, many large financial institutions are setting up central collateral trading desks/functions. Trading collateral has always been a fundamental part of dealer business but is usually done in silos such as repos, sec lending, OTC derivatives, prime brokerage, etc. The challenge of this new direction is that profitability has not grown at the same pace, which means that these desks may not have sufficient investments to build requisite analytics and technology. In addition, the centralization of bank services across operations and technology means that the needs of specific collateral types may get ignored in the event of a major technology renovation project.

A simple yet innovative solution to this problem is technology that serves as connectivity across all collateralized trading desks whether merged or in silos. Connectivity to repo, securities lending, OTC margining, futures, prime brokerage and other collateral-related business lines is critical to understanding both the big picture and the contributions of each business unit. By establishing this connectivity, firms can avoid major technology rebuilds or installs that may affect every trading desk in favor of middleware that provides data management as well as decision support across the organization.

By connecting all trading desks while leaving their product-specific technologies alone, firms can create a mechanism where data and analytics flow up to trading desks while decisions and actions flow down into the firm’s aggregate data pool. This creates a sizeable advantage for firms wanting to optimize their collateral trading activities while avoiding the cost and headache of a major technology project to harmonize platforms for data management.

The Transcend Street Solution

We at Transcend Street Solutions have considered the data problem across multiple large financial institutions in a new way. Many technology vendors seek to be the golden source of all data. We do not. Instead, we want to connect to every golden source of data where it stands now. This asks a financial institution to provide access to data and not replace existing warehouses or infrastructure. Our first solution, CoSMOS, collates, harmonizes, mines and analyzes all valuable information across enterprise-wide systems in real-time. We then feed those data into platforms for business user decision making, including regulatory reporting, internal applications and third party collateral management systems. By acting as an overlay, our goal is to quickly get the data out of storage and into a useful, actionable format.

Once the process of collateral and liquidity data aggregation is complete throughout the global organization and across business units, there are a wide variety of applications that can be brought to bear. We see regulatory reporting, insight on collateral agreements, funding and position management, margin dashboard management and liquidity analytics as starting places. We expect that the collateral and liquidity space will evolve to require additional services.
Uses of aggregated collateral and liquidity management data
Processing data for collateral and liquidity management is not an insurmountable task but it does take work. Many firms have only loose ideas about where every source of information is located internally across business units and geographies. But focusing on internal data aggregation enables a large number of other processes, reporting and technologies to function with maximum efficiency. The data problem is well-known: now solutions are appearing that confront the challenge in new ways.

This article was originally published on Securities Finance Monitor.

Transcend Street Solutions Adds Jon Beyman to Board of Advisors

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NEW YORK, NY  November 05, 2015

Transcend Street Solutions announced today that Jon Beyman has joined the firm’s Board of Advisors. Jon will help the team in business and product development strategies along with building industry alliances for the recently launched CoSMOS product.

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