An old journalist buddy of mine once confessed to me that he only had three basic story outlines; and for each article he wrote he simply had to pick the most appropriate one and modify to suit.
As I sat down to think about this piece I can emphasize with my friend. There’s only so many ways one can say STP-is-a-good-thing. There’s only so many ways you can say ISO20022-is-the-best-thing-since-sliced-bread-what-are-you-waiting-for? And frankly
there’s not a lot new one can write about the SWIFT Standards Release. It comes around every November as sure as death and taxes. [Editors note: You’ve used this line before… what a hack!]
Nevertheless, it is a piece that must be written, if only to remind SWIFT members of their rights and responsibilities. If you find yourself wondering why we, the financial industry, put ourselves through this agonizing process every year then this piece
is one that must be read.
As most of us are consumed with final preparations for the SR2015 release in November the wheels of SWIFT’s Standards Release machine are already quietly turning for SR2016. In July SWIFT published the High Level Information document, available here:
This document summarizes 66 Change Requests (CR), the fruits of thousands of hours of hard labor and painful negotiations by market practice groups such as ISITC. In August the SWIFT Maintenance Working Groups (MWG) were convened to put these CRs into the
hopper. Out popped 31 Approved-Change-Requests, and these now go out for "Country vote".
The MWG minutes are available from your local User Group Chairperson (UGC). If you don’t know who your UGC is then take a look here:
Upon closer inspection there are 15 CRs in the High Level doc which were not mentioned in the MWG minutes. Turns out these CRs were already approved last year. Corporate Actions, in particular you may recall, decided to give themselves a holiday in 2015.
It might have seemed like a good idea at the time, but now the combined CR count of the five coacs messages is a whopping 49. Yikes! It’s time to start repaying that "Standards Debt".
The Payments MWG rejected all 9 CRs for Cat-1 and 2. Curious. I wonder if the experience of dealing with so much change in SR2015 is weighing heavily on the minds. Interestingly though, tucked away at the very end of the minutes is a reference to ISO
20022. No more non-urgent changes until we migrate to 20022. Wow! This may well be a watershed event and this bold position should be applauded. It is going to force some real dialog. However, if no migration plan to 20022 can be established or agreed upon
then we’ll have to come back to these MT changes later. In other words, we run the risk of accumulating more Standards Debt.
Perhaps this is OK. Perhaps we should be prepared to go into debt if the reward is sufficiently attractive relative to the risk. It is a risk worth taking in my view. I am ever the optimist; surely we can all get together and agree on a migration plan.
Back to SR2016, the next step in the process, as noted above, is the country vote for SWIFT shareholders. The UGCs are now busy collecting comments and opinions from their respective communities in order to establish an aggregated position for all 31 changes
on the docket. The UGCs will submit their votes to SWIFT by the October 30th deadline.
Only 31 votes; sounds small enough; but when you add in the previously approved CRs this actually translates into 170 changes affecting 64 message types. Double yikes! SR2016 is clearly going to be big. If you care about this sort of stuff, as every SWIFT
member should, then get involved. Your vote counts.