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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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.

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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

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.

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

 

 

Top five trends in collateral management for 2018

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Collateral management has broadened far past simple margin processing; collateral now impacts a majority of financial market activity from determining critical capital calculations to impacting customer experience to driving strategic investment decisions. In this article, we identify the top five trends in collateral management for 2018 and highlight important areas to watch going forward.

The holistic theme driving forward collateral management is its central role in financial markets. Collateral has grown so broad as to make even its name confusing: where collateral can refer to a specific asset, the implications of collateral today can reach through reporting, risk, liquidity, pricing, infrastructure and relationship management. The opportunities for collateral professionals have likewise expanded, and non-collateral roles must now have an understanding of collateral to deliver their core obligations to internal and external clients.

We see a common theme running through five areas to watch in collateral management in the coming year: the application of smarter data and intelligence to drive core business objectives. Many firms have digested the basics of collateral optimization and are now ready to incorporate a broader set of parameters and even a new definition of what optimization means. Likewise, technology investments in collateral are starting to tie into broader innovation projects at larger firms; this will unlock new value-added opportunities for both internal and external facing technology applications.

Here are our top five trends for collateral management in 2018:

#5 Technology Investments

The investment cycle in collateral-related technology applications continues to grow at a rapid pace. Collateral management budget discussions are moving from the back office to the top of the house. And partly as a result, the definition of the category is also changing. Collateral management should no longer be seen as strictly the actions of moving margin for specified products, but rather is part of a complex ecosystem of collateral, liquidity, balance sheet management and analytics. The usual, first order investment targets of these budgets are internally focused, including better reporting, inventory management and data aggregation. The second derivative benefit of a more robust data infrastructure focuses on externally facing trading applications, including tools for traders and client intelligence utilities that provide real-time information and pricing for the benefit of all parties. This new category does not yet have a simple name, one could think of it as a “recommendation system” but regardless of name, this has become a major driver of forward-looking bank technology efforts and efficiency drives.

As large financial services firms capture the benefits of their current round of investments, they will increasingly turn towards integrating core innovations in artificial intelligence, Robotics Process Automation and other existing technologies into their collateral-related investments. This will unlock a large new wave of opportunity for how business is conducted and what information can be captured, analyzed, then automated, for a range of client facing, business line, internal management and reporting applications.

#4 Regulatory reporting

Despite being 10 years since the bottom of the great recession, regulatory reporting requirements for banks and asset managers continue to evolve. Largely irrespective of jurisdiction, the core problem facing these firms is aggregating and linking data together for reporting automation. Due to strict timeframes and complex requirements, firms historically relied on a pre-existing mosaic of technology and human resources to satisfy regulatory reporting needs. However, these tactical solutions made scale, efficiency and responsiveness to new rules difficult. The challenge of regulatory reporting is a puzzle that, once solved, appears obvious. But the process of solving the puzzle can create substantial challenges.

Looking at one regulation alone misses the transformative opportunity of strategic data management across the organization. Whether it is SFTR, MiFID II, Recovery & Resolution Planning requirements of SR-14/17 or Qualified Financial Contracts (QFCs), the latest initiative du jour should be a kick off for a broader rethink about data utilization. Wherever a firm starts, the end result must be a robust data infrastructure that can aggregate and link information at the most granular level. At a high level, firms will need to develop the capability to link all positions and trading data with agreements that govern these positions, collateral that is posted on the agreements, any guarantees that may be applied and any other constraints that need to be considered. Additionally, it has to be able to format and produce the needed information on demand. Achieving this goal will take meaningful work but will make organizations not only more efficient but also more future proof.

#3 Transfer pricing

As firms try to optimize collateral across the enterprise, it is critical that they develop reasonably sophisticated transfer pricing mechanisms to ensure appropriate cost allocations as well as sufficient transparency to promote best incentives in the organization. Many sell-side firms have highly granular models with visibility into secured and unsecured funding, XVA, balance sheet and capital costs. And in varying fashion these firms allocate some or all of these costs internally. But many challenges remain, including: how should all these costs be directly charged to the trader or desk doing the trade; and what is the right balance of allocating actual costs versus incentivizing business behavior that maximally benefits the client franchise overall. As we know, client business profiles change through time as do funding and capital constraints. There may be a conscious decision to do some business that may not make money in support of other areas that are highly profitable. Transfer pricing is evolving from a bespoke, business aligned process to a dynamic, enterprise tool. The effort to enhance transfer pricing business models continues to be refined and expanded.

Firms that embrace the next iteration of transfer pricing will achieve a more scalable, efficient and responsive balance sheet. This will include capturing both secured and unsecured funding costs, plus firm-wide and business specific liquidity and capital costs. Accurately identifying the range of costs can properly incentivize business behaviors beyond simply the cost of an asset in the collateral market. Ultimately, transfer pricing can be a tool to drive strategic balance sheet management objectives across the firm.

Functionally, implementing transfer pricing requires access to substantial data on existing balance sheet costs, inventory management and liquidity costs that firms must consider. Much like collateral optimization, the building block of a robust transfer pricing methodology is data. Accurate information on transfer pricing can then flow back into trading and business decisions to be truly effective.

#2 Collateral control and optimization

Optimization is evolving well beyond an operations driven process of finding opportunity within a business to an enterprise wide approach at pre-trade, trade and post-trade levels. Pre-trade, “what-if” analyses that will inform a trader if a proposed transaction is cost accretive or reducing to the franchise is important, but this requires an analytics tool that can comprehend the impact to the firm’s economic ecosystem. At the point of trade, identifying demands and sources of collateral across the entire enterprise extends to knowing where inventories are across business lines, margin centers, legal entities and regions. It also means understanding the operational nuances and legal constraints governing those demands across global tri-parties, CCPs, derivative margin centers and securities finance requirements.

In a simple example, collateral posted on one day may not be the best to post a week later; if posted collateral becomes scarce in the securities financing market and can be profitably lent out, it may be unwise to provide it as margin. A holistic post-trade analysis, complete with updated repo or securities lending spreads, can tell a trader about missed opportunities, leading to a new form of Transaction Cost Analytics for collateralized trading markets.

#1 Integration of derivatives & securities finance (fixed income and equities)

The need for taking a holistic approach to collateral management has led the industry toward significant business model changes. Collateral is common currency across an enterprise and must be properly allocated to wherever it can be used most efficiently. This means that traditional silos – repo, securities lending, OTC derivatives, exchange traded derivatives, treasury and other areas – need to be integrated. Operations groups that have been doing fundamentally the same thing can no longer be isolated from one another; the cost savings that come from process automation and avoiding operational duplication is too compelling.

On the front-office side, changes needed to impact trading behavior, culture and reporting to name a few are often very difficult to implement over a short period of time. Despite similar flows and economic guidelines, different markets and operation centers, even though all under the same roof, traditionally suffer from asymmetric information. To address this challenge a handful of large sell-side players have combined some aspects of these businesses under the “collateral” banner, sometimes along with custody or other related processing business. Others have developed an enterprise solution to inventory and collateral management. We expect that, more and more, management is seeing the common threads and shared risks involved. The merger of business and operations teams translates into a need for technology that can be leveraged across silos.

The business of collateral management is reshaping every process and silo it touches. While the trends we have identified are not brand new, they all stand out for how far and fast they are advancing in 2018 and beyond. Financial services firms that take advantage of these trends concurrently and plan for a future where collateral is integrated across all areas of the business will improve their competitive positioning going forward. To add a sixth trend: firms that ignore broader thinking about collateral management technology do so at their own peril.

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

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.

Access the full report on Securities Finance Monitor.
To download this article, please click here.