The Depository Trust & Clearing Corporation (DTCC), Swift and XBRL US have published a business case in favour of automating corporate actions messages.
The partners teamed up last year to embark on a process designed to "fundamentally change" corporate actions announcement processing, bringing greater accuracy, and reduced risks and costs by improving transparency and communication between issuers and investors.
They have now published their business case, developed with stakeholders from across the corporate actions processing supply chain - issuers, intermediaries and investors - documenting the existing process, highlighting current problems, and providing recommendations to solve those issues.
The recommendations call for, among other things, a single set of global standards for corporate actions processing to bring greater accuracy, reduced risks and lower costs by improving transparency and communication between issuers and investors.
The next stage of the process will see a pilot programme begun late this year, with participation from issuers, intermediaries and investors, to implement the recommendations and evaluate costs and benefits.
The business case highlights four critical issues raised by issuers, intermediaries and investors in today's corporate action announcement process that the proposed solution is designed to address:
- Interpretation risk: Issuer messages are "free text", eg. news releases and regulatory filings that must be interpreted, transformed and summarised by the financial services industry with no input from the issuer on the data conveyed.
- Timing risk: The need for manual interpretation and intervention by intermediaries results in delays in communicating information to the investor.
- Accuracy risk: Multiple parties extracting, manually rekeying and disseminating the same information increases the potential for errors delivered to the investor.
- Significant costs in the current system: The lack of straight-through-processing throughout the corporate action chain results in cost and liability being absorbed by the financial services industry.
To address these issues, the business case makes three principal recommendations:
- All parties to the process should adopt a single set of global information and technology standards, while continuing to support the current disclosure process;
- Issuers should "tag" corporate action documents with XBRL (based upon the global ISO standard followed by the financial services industry), permitting easy, automated extraction of the data, and
- Intermediaries should consume and seamlessly disseminate the electronic version of the corporate action information as close to real-time as possible or within a timeframe as requested by investors.
James Anderson, manager, financial reporting, AGL Resources, says: "Implementing these recommendations would result in corporate action information that is computer-readable, eliminating the need for intermediaries to interpret and transform our messages into structured data. This allows us to remain in control of these important disclosures, and ensure they are communicated exactly as we intended. This enables greater transparency, accuracy and timeliness of our data that is extracted from regulatory filings and press releases that we issue, giving our shareholders more time to make decisions."