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Sibos 2014 Standards Forum Preview

Yes folks, it’s that time of year when 7000 bankers from around the world congregate to catch a glimpse of the real brains and architects of our industry at the Standards Forum.   There should be no doubt in our minds that financial services runs on standards.  Just ask yourself, where would be without SWIFT?  Where would be without the FIX Protocol?  What if there were no currency codes? 

The Standards Forum is convened several times throughout the year, but the SIBOS edition is always the poster child event in the annual standards calendar.  It’s where stuff-gets-done and decisions-are-made.  It’s busy season for the light bulb industry as demand soars throughout the week.  

This year we’re in Boston, one of my favorite cities.  The marathon event promises to be a corker.  60-odd speakers, experts and geeks spread over 20 sessions.  

Come on by and say hello to the SWIFT team who organize the event and man the stand.  Chantal will be quarterbacking as usual.  For, Stephen Lindsay, the Head of Standards and arguably the most important man in the business, it’s his second Sibos in the role and time to really start making a difference.  Five years from now, how will history judge Stephen?  And let’s not forget the old crooner himself, Andrew Muir. 

The sessions are aligned along four themes.


#1, can financial standards facilitate regulatory compliance? 

Spoiler alert:  YES. 

Sorry for ruining the surprise.  Along with many others I have been writing about this for quite some time.  It’s sort of intuitively obvious, but fiendishly difficult to execute. 


#2. Faster, better, cheaper, simpler.  Can standards help?

Spoiler alert:  YES.

Actually a qualified YES I think… to a very great extent it depends on a number of big IFs.  For example, If 20022 makes good on the promise of semantic interoperability then it will dramatically simplify systems integration projects and significantly shorten the development life-cycle.  If, on the other hand, 20022 is thought of as “just-another-syntax-we-have-to-deal-with”; which for some seems likely, at least in the short term; then our messaging infrastructures will certainly be more complex than they are today, and the TCO is certain to head north.


#3. ISO 20022 turns 10 this year.

This is bittersweet.  We are right to puff out our chests and congratulate ourselves.  I was there at the very beginning when we first started talking about 15022ML.  It is tremendously satisfying to see our baby grow up and fly solo.  We’re very proud of its successes, and we are there by its side when the going gets rough.  We are confident and highly optimistic that our boy has a very bright future. 

At the same time we are incredibly frustrated that the standard refuses to leave the house.  Grow up already and make your own money.  “But Dad, they’re just not ready for me”. 

Most 10 year-old technologies have half an eye permanently fixed over their shoulder, to watch out for those who would seek to supplant them.  There does not appear to be any serious contenders on the horizon, but we must be careful not to become complacent.


#4. A shameless plug for MyStandards.  Well it is SWIFT’s show after all.  There is no question that MyStandards is a far far better way to document our standards.  But just imagine how powerful it could be if you could take that documentation and generate code for immediate production deployment.  Sounds far-fetched.  It doesn’t have to be.  Expect some movement in this space very soon. 


It all promises to be a fun and engaging week.  Remember, it’s cool to be a geek these days.  Now, if we can just keep the mike away from Mr. Muir... 



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Standards Forum

The Standards Forum is the place where business and standardisation meet. This group would like to facilitate and encourage dialogue around standardisation in the financial industry, and share views, insights and updates on how financial standards can contribute to reducing cost and increasing efficiency when tackling today's challenges such as automation, compliance, and regulation.

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