Australian bank Macquarie has begun implementing industry association FISD's Financial Information Associate (FIA) professional certification program for its market data staff, in response to requests from the bank's data team for a training and certification program to help them keep pace with the increasing complexities of market data administration.
Macquarie's data team numbers 18 business analyst, accounts, administration and technology staff worldwide with differing levels of experience in Sydney, Hong Kong, New York and London, including an administrative team in the Philippines and a technical team in India.
The bank began training its data staff for the FIA certification in March, using an online syllabus provided by online training provider Learning Modules, and has set a deadline of year-end for all staff to have completed the program and passed the test.
Macquarie's intention is that the program─which provides training in all aspects of market data as well as the financial markets that it serves─will provide staff with the skills to not only understand data products, but also fully understand the business needs of those using the products, so they can not only determine what product is best suited to individual traders and other users, but also convince those users why a service is appropriate for them, and be able to better contribute to cost-saving initiatives through the use of alternative data products.
"Market data, now more than ever, is a complex vocation requiring specialist knowledge and an intimate understanding of financial markets. Having these skills allows the market data team to service the business more effectively and rationalize costs. Macquarie has made the FISD FIA certification training available for all staff involved in market data," says Martin Finniss, global head of market data at Macquarie in Sydney, in a statement.
This complexity derives from a number of different pressures creating a perfect storm for modern data management professionals, including increasingly complex exchange usage and licensing policies that can have a material impact on data costs through the use of non-display and derived data policies, and compliance with redistribution agreements; regulatory issues such as over-the-counter reporting requirements; and index data and trademark licensing complexities.
David Anderson, program director at FISD and principal of Atradia Consulting, says the certification has been well received in Australia, where another Australian bank is also seriously considering adopting the FIA certification, and agrees with the need for greater understanding so data staff can contribute to solving business needs.
"If you are spending millions on products and services, you need to know you have─or can invest in─skilled people to identify and acquire those, and to implement them in the optimal way," Anderson says. "Often, the market data business feels like second-class citizens compared to the 'business' side.... Our niche often needs to argue for more resources. So we as a community need to think about how we promote ourselves so the wider financial markets take us more seriously─and a professional certification is one way to do that."
Beyond its data team, Macquarie may consider expanding the FIA program to cover staff in associated development roles creating software products that utilize market data, and who therefore need to understand the nature of the data itself in order to handle it correctly, and to ensure the software is making optimal use of the data and not costing the bank more than is necessary.
Anderson says he expects to see the standard used for broader areas in future, and to incorporate other nuances of data management and test different skills.
"The certification is a robust tool to get existing staff to improve or as a filter for potential employees. But it's up to the industry to help us craft this tool to make it better. As for where we take this, and what will be in future iterations─such as how you test on-the-job skills─nothing is concrete yet," he says. "We're a trade association: we're not trying to get rich from this; we're just trying to do what our members want."
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