Sibos 2019: Too Much Flexibility Impedes Progress

By Lisa Iagatta

At ISITC, we believe industry-wide collaboration is the key to progress. That’s why we were thrilled to have several of our members attend SWIFT’s Sibos event in London to engage with other firms in payments, securities, cash management, and trade. In keeping with the conference’s theme, “Thriving in a hyper-connected world,” I moderated a panel with ISITC leaders Paul Fullam, Kristin Hochstein, and Charles-Raymond Boniver to educate the audience on ISITC’s role in our interconnected industry, as well as standards’ importance for financial services innovation.

The necessity of standards was a primary theme throughout the conference, and was something that we emphasized during our own session, “How ISITC Standards Help Create a Thriving, Hyper-Connected World.” It’s true that there needs to be flexibility in place to account for additional data elements as they come to fruition. However, market practices and standards should be in place so that industry players can more seamlessly coordinate with one another and drive initiatives forward. Panelist and ISITC Vice Chair Kristin Hochstein said it best when she stated, “It’s flexibility versus conformance. Too much flexibility impedes progress.”

One of the main issues that our organization has been struggling with has been the global market practices already in place that provide a helpful framework for the securities industry, but that aren’t followed on a larger scale, which essentially renders them useless. These market practices hold no weight if they’re not universally followed, so we’ve been trying to educate industry leaders on what they need to adhere to for greater efficiencies. On the other side of the coin, market practices can’t be developed in a way that keeps us stagnant. Rather, they should offer enough flexibility for future data and methods to be integrated into the outlined approach.

All in all, the end game we seek is 100% STP for all asset classes throughout the transactional lifecycle. At Sibos, many speakers discussed different ways for us to get there. Although it’s a great long-term goal, it may be tougher to achieve in the short term.

Whether it’s ISO or FIX standards, there are many global frameworks that exist that industry players need to stay on top of as they change and adapt. I’m proud to be a part of an organization that’s working to lead the charge and bring financial services firms together to learn from each other. As long as our industry remains flexible with those standards without sacrificing a coordinated approach, we’ll be better positioned for long-term success.

We greatly enjoyed the discussion in London, and look forward to attending SWIFT in Boston again next year! In the meantime, we continue our quest to get closer to achieving 100% STP and thrive in a hyper-connected world.