Data management and compliance have emerged as key pain points for financial market participants attending this year's Finexpo City Technology Strategies event in London.
Speakers from Accenture, Dresdner Kleinwort Wasserstein, Credit Suisse First Boston, HSBC and Baring Asset Management drew large numbers of delegates as they recounted their own experiences and strategies for dealing with data compliance issues.
Stephen Ashton, director, global IT business mangement at DrKW estimates that 10-15% of the firm's headcount are involved in compliance-related work. This equates to a substantial cost burden, he points out, and one that is not likely to level out for at least another one to two years in an unstable and developing regulatory environment.
On top of that, a silo-based approach to retaining and managing the data required to prove compliance and deliver workable business solutions has created an "IT monster", he says, which offers "tons of information but little knowledge".
DrKW has been working with Tideway Systems to develop a control management system designed to bring transparency to the bank's global IT environment, identify interdependencies and remove the costs associated with manually maintaining multiple configuration management systems.
The aim of the project, says Ashton, is "to get the human beings out of the system and let the tools do the work".
The level of manual intervention in data management was an issue raised by Chris Swan, a VP at Credit Suisse First Boston, in another standing-room only presentation on the use of service oriented architectures and grid technologies. He pointed out that the investment banking industry had successfully introduced automation to move the clerks and paper shufflers out of the back office, only to see it repopulated by IT people doing manual processes. "Now we have to automate the automation," he says.
Getting management buy in from the business units for reference data projects was identified by all Finexpo speakers as a critical issue.
Mark Connolley, a senior manager at Accenture, says banks need to institute coherent enterprise data governance and ownership frameworks. "The CIO has to sit at the table and own and enforce the standards," he notes.
Rob Knight, global head of operational compliance at Baring Asset Management, emphasises the responsibilities of all users of reference data - from front office sales people to clients - in maintaining standards.
She cautions: "Without buy in you end up with a lot of money spent and an expensive white elephant."