AFTAs 2017: Most Innovative Third-Party Technology Vendor—Middle and Back Office—S3 Partners

2017 AFTAs

New York-based S3 Partners has enjoyed success in the annual Buy-Side Technology Awards over the past three years, taking home awards for best newcomer, best big data technology provider and best data analytics tools. It was only a matter of time, therefore, that the firm made a similar impact at the AFTAs and in 2017 it added the award for most innovative third-party technology vendor (middle and back office) to its growing collection, thanks to its flagship offering, the software-as-a-service (SaaS)-based data analytics platform, Blacklight.

Blacklight is designed to allow users to manage and reduce counterparty risk, as well as improve buy-side relationships through the provision of data-driven analytics that in turn enhance trading decisions as the volumes that data asset managers must store, process and analyze continue to grow to the point where information overload has become a very real problem. In the three years the platform has been operating, S3 Partners has rolled out a number of enhancements covering a full reporting suite, digitized document library, a security finance dashboard, multi-asset class exposure analytics, enhanced visualization tools, and new wallet and performance measurement analytics, among others.

But to label Blacklight as a data analytics platform would do it a disservice, as the platform’s breadth of functionality covers securities financing, commissions, cash management, over-the-counter (OTC) collateral, counterparty agreements/terms/risk, prime broker/repo/swap margin calculations, custody/counterparty relationships, balance-sheet efficiency, and what if real options analysis (ROA). The depth of the platform is evident through its securities master database, which includes 450,000 discreet identifiers, mapped to all financing/swap counterparties, supported by over five million data points, all weighted toward liquidity. Underpinning this is S3 Partners’ proprietary Prime Information Exchange (PIX) data standardization protocol, which aggregates, reconciles, normalizes and curates all financing data from a wide variety of electronic and voice broker sources and counterparties. 

Over the last year the vendor has continued to build out its suite of analytics and apps, available through Bloomberg and Thomson Reuters, in particular its Blacklight Apps Crowding Kit (Black Apps), which provides analytics on crowded trades, available via Bloomberg’s App Portal. According to the firm, Black Apps is able to see accurate, real-time, short-interest levels on a per-share and percentage-of-float basis, weeks ahead of exchange reporting, allowing users to identify how short selling, short covering, long selling and potential short squeezes impact portfolios.

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