Despite tightened technology budgets, large financial institutions are now taking tangible action to improve their management of reference data, according to a new survey by TowerGroup.
The survey asked 104 individuals from 80 different institutions in North America, the UK and Europe whether heightened awareness of the issues concerning reference data led to real action by the industry.
According to the survey, nearly two out of three financial institutions (61%) indicated that projects to improve the management of reference data were either a top (13%) or a high (48%) priority and while cost containment is still the battle cry of the industry, spending on data management technologies does not appear to be suffering.
It was also found that the poor quality and inconsistency of much reference data continues to be a challenge for the industry. Among firms that have electronic messaging systems in place to communicate with counterparties, problems with reference data lead to 45% of trade exceptions.
Securities industry firms are beginning to assign reference data projects a 'high priority', with more than 60% of respondents indicating that projects to improve reference data were either a top or a high priority, despite the current adverse economic climate.
More than one in five brokers consider data management a 'top priority' for their firm, while 59% of all custodians assigned it at least a 'high priority'.
While interest in data management technology is high, with 83% of respondents considering new investments and many firms willing to budget for data management projects, the tools to improve data management will not come cheap. The average price tag associated with the synchronisation and standardisation of enterprise-wide reference data, including technology and operational processes is US$4.2 million.
Tim Lind, senior analyst, TowerGroup investment management practice and author of the report says that, on the whole, the industry is recognising that poor reference data is a major stumbling block to STP, but stresses that there are other critical factors in play, such as reputation and client trust: "On the buy-side, one erroneous data point discovered by a client can cause that client to question not only the soundness of the firm's overall management of data, but also the investment decisions based on that data."