A Connected Collateral Ecosystem

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Recent advances in collateral management technology – from algorithms to advanced analytics – are revolutionising the opportunities available to firms seeking optimisation at an enterprise-wide level.

Firms are increasingly realising the advantages of adopting a more centralised and harmonised approach to managing collateral, and utilising the latest software solutions to inform decision-making. Bimal Kadikar, CEO at Transcend, says: “Forward-looking firms have recognised that optimising collateral and liquidity across an enterprise, as well as within business areas, can drive efficiencies and deliver wider strategic benefits.” Read more

Collateral in 2020: Driving Optimization in an Evolving Ecosystem

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In this Global Investor Group Special Report, Collateral in 2020, Bimal Kadikar outlines the steps firms can take to optimise collateral at an enterprise-wide level and explains how a connected collateral ecosystem can be utilised to inform decision-making. Read more

Connected Data: The Opportunity for Collateral and Liquidity Optimization

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The function and definition of collateral and liquidity optimization has continued to expand from its roots in the early 2000s. Practitioners must now consider the application of connected data on security holders to operationalize the next level of efficiency in balance sheet management. A guest post from Transcend. Read more

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:

Read more

Centralized collateral management becoming a reality

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Collateral management has transitioned from an ancillary service to a core competency, largely as a result of the sheer breadth of activity from front to back office and horizontally across silos and asset classes. This has spurred a marked shift towards centralization of collateral management, providing organizations with a centralized view of inventory as well as funding and collateral optimization decisions.

But the move to a more efficient and centralized model is not without challenges. Inefficiencies and the cost of errors are magnified by the multiplicity of internal and external relationships that need to be managed and the requirement to control positions more frequently, even in real-time.

This requires a fundamental shift from managing assets only for margin purposes to managing assets for value, cost and balance sheet purposes.

Moving to a centralized collateral organization is a difficult step for many reasons and as a result, some firms are decoupling their business organization from their technology capabilities.  They are instead focusing on building a centralized, horizontal technology strategy for inventory and collateral management.

In either case, the end goal may be the same – a holistic infrastructure that can yield the benefits of centralized collateral and inventory management coupled with sophisticated analytics and firm-wide optimization capabilities. Fortunately, today’s technology enables this ultimate goal as well as the smaller moves in this direction.

Steps to collateral optimization

Regardless of the approach taken, there are a number of best practices for firms looking to increase the efficiency of their collateral and liquidity management:

  1. Achieve visibility into inventory across multiple business lines and regions. This centralized view is extremely important.
  2. Ensure all collateral schedules and legal agreements are easily accessible as these will impose constraints on decision-making.
  3. Take a centralized view of different types of obligations and requirements to enable good decision-making.
  4. Establish targeted analytics and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to measure and monitor progress of these initiatives.

These are vital foundational steps towards achieving an optimized collateral management environment.

Connected data: The key to better decision-making

Of course, bringing the data together is just one part of the process – the next step is to connect the data so that algorithms and analytics can be applied to it. Firms understand that the information is there for them to make better decisions, but they face a challenge in getting useable information and putting it to work.

The main obstacle, in most cases, is that they have built their operational structures and technology around specific areas of the business. To achieve a view across the whole enterprise, these businesses require coordination and connectivity across a large number of different internal and external systems – not easy to accomplish.

The solution lies in implementing a system that is easy to integrate and is targeted at connecting and harmonizing this data.

Avoiding costly re-engineering

There are sometimes negative connotations around the phrase ‘legacy technology’ but this is not always accurate. A firm’s existing securities lending or repo or margin systems may be good, but they will more often than not have been built as separate systems. Rather than re-engineering all these systems, what the firm needs is a layer that pulls these disparate systems together to ensure they are seeing a holistic and harmonized view of inventory, positions and obligations.

Most firms have taken some steps to improve their inventory management, but there is a wide difference across the industry in terms of the strategies adopted to achieve this objective. Some organizations are trying to address the issue in a tactical way, fixing one system at a time to see whether this gives them greater visibility, but this approach does not have much longevity from a strategic perspective.

The larger organizations have usually taken a more strategic approach. Some see it as primarily an internal engineering effort, while others are talking to firms such as Transcend as they seek to harness real-time data, collateral and liquidity.

Regardless of the approach taken, being able to optimize collateral and liquidity decisions at an enterprise level has huge benefits. The sheer number of firms and analysts that have explored the scale of these benefits underlines the significance of the opportunity, and we find that most firms are actively taking steps towards achieving these capabilities.

Optimization models can be implemented with a rules-based approach or even using more sophisticated algorithms (i.e. linear and non-linear programming models). These all have a vital role to play in monetizing the connected data across the firm.

Scaling the benefits

Being able to optimize collateral across business lines is an obvious benefit, but there are also advantages to be gained from reducing internal errors and fail rates. In addition, funding costs will fall because firms will be managing their funding operations more efficiently: improving securitized funding leads to a reduction in more expensive, unsecured funding.

Whether or not firms embrace centralization across all aspects of their business, it is clear that rationalizing complex systems and harnessing fragmented data sets provides for informed, confident and compliant decision-making. And once centralized funding and collateral management are fully achieved, the benefits of efficiency, cost-savings and liquidity attain even greater scale for the firm.

This article was originally published on Global Investor Group.

View and/or download Article PDF

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

QFC Recordkeeping Compliance: Top 5 Challenges, and Even Greater Benefits

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With 2019 upon us, the first deadlines for banks to comply with the QFC Recordkeeping regulation are just around the corner. The final rule, detailed under the Dodd-Frank Act, will provide US regulatory authorities visibility into firms’ financial exposures and counterparty relationships to reduce the market risks and potential impact in the case of a major institution failing. Read more

Collaboration, Communication (and a Margarita?): The Catalysts for IT Innovation

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Leadership, especially in critical, but technologically-challenged functions like collateral management, is the key to seizing a competitive advantage.

IT innovation doesn’t just happen, even in the capital markets where opportunities for substantial improvements in areas like collateral and liquidity management can lead to greater, measurable and sustainable returns. All IT innovation needs commitment, investment and a strategy to make a difference. But most importantly, it needs unwavering leadership if it is to deliver the competitive success it promises.

And here lies the conundrum.

Bank executives already allocate hundreds of millions of dollars (even billions) annually towards technology budgets, yet they are still being bombarded by the claims of a myriad of new developments and solutions that promise an elusive holy grail.

Strengthen Decision-Making

How should the business digitize, become platform-based and leverage open architectures to drive data management strategies that deliver intelligent information?  Finding the key to this will strengthen decision-making across all front-to-back office functions.

But it’s not surprising that there is resistance to change, with perennial questions to be answered such as: Why can’t we get more out of our existing IT estate? Will that spend even deliver half of what it promises? What disruption will there be to existing systems while this takes place and how long will it take?

These are understandable executive concerns, given the time consumed by regulatory compliance, the dynamics of a rapidly changing market, and constant pressures to reduce costs and improve margins. Also, not unnaturally, executives lean heavily on historically well-resourced internal IT teams to guide future decision-making, and hence investment.

But it still came as a shock to many when a 2015 Accenture Report estimated that 96% of bank board members had no professional technology experience, while only 3% of bank CEOs had any formal IT knowledge. At the same time, another study said that the top 10 banks have more IT personnel than the top 10 financial software vendors.

Some say that “ignorance is bliss”, but others counter, “If that’s the case why aren’t there more happy people about?” And this reveals the dilemma.

Define the Divide

A lack of IT and business alignment in banking has been a thorny subject for years, constantly framing the two sides as adversaries, rather than partners. These differences often create a chasm of understanding of the priorities, objectives and vision of “success” for each side, effectively stagnating progress toward the necessary transformation.

But there is a way forward.

Remove Gridlocks

Take, for example, collateral management. We know processes are often gridlocked, liquidity constrained, technology inflexible and access to pertinent data denied by historic silos and working practices. Every week we see how this results in lower capital returns and impaired profitability, at a time of increased competition and shrinking margins.

What used to be a straightforward back-office task to ensure sufficient and appropriate collateral has become mission-critical in pre-trade decision-making as constraints on capital, regulatory pressures and efficiency mandates demand optimized collateral deployment firm-wide.

But recognizing the problem is only the first challenge. Attempting to fix system pitfalls with a few bandages on already stretched legacy systems tends to compound the problem over time.

Trust External Expertise and Innovation

Experience shows that wider collaboration is feasible – and is working. Banks are now better able to lean on the expertise of outside IT vendor expertise, whose claims are not only battle-proven but are ones that complement rather than threaten internal teams. Developing collaborative partnerships with the business, internal IT and select external vendors who bring new ideas, innovation and experience to the table can significantly advance the firm’s technology objectives. Furthermore, there is a greater willingness to consider cloud-based solutions, as cost benefits and improved resilience start to outweigh historic operational risk concerns.

Align Talent with Objectives

This collaborative approach also benefits internal departments by enabling them to deploy talent where it can be most effective. It encourages the injection of fresh ideas into internal debates, complementing existing capabilities with a step-by-step series of tactical enhancements that eventually deliver a strategic objective – without undermining business opportunities or day-to-day operations.

If this leads to more effective data aggregation and analysis, there will be better-informed decisions that deliver tangible improvements to business profitability, while also reducing risk and bolstering regulatory compliance.

A fresh look at enterprise-wide technologies also lays the foundations for ongoing automation of critical business processes. By starting in a segment like collateral management that impacts all asset classes, business functions and jurisdictions, firms can enable each stakeholder across trading workflows to evolve and provide greater value to the broader enterprise.

This should not only produce a more effective and profitable business but a better informed and more confident executive team that is further empowered to deploy technology more widely to the best benefit of the business.

Once there, they can probably also have a laugh and raise a margarita to Jimmy Buffett, who one of my island-loving peers quotes: “Is it ignorance or apathy? Hey, I don’t know and I don’t care” – because by then everyone will know and they will care.