Opening Cross: When Collaboration Isn’t a Crime

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Perhaps it’s because summer is now officially here and everyone wants to go skipping hand-in-hand through sun-drenched meadows, or that FISD’s Tom Davin is the latest inductee into the Inside Market Data Hall of Fame, or perhaps there’s another dynamic at work: industry participants who (sometimes fiercely) sit on opposite sides of the table seem more willing to reach across the table and—instead of saying “What can you do for me?”—ask “What can I do for you?” or even better, “What can we do to help each other?”

At the North American Financial Information Summit last week, panelists expressed a distinct preference for collaboration rather than combat. For example, whereas in the past, data managers would describe their efforts to keep vendor representatives away from direct contact with end-users, some firms are now inviting vendors into their offices to help communicate the complexities and restrictions of their data usage policies.

On one panel, Mark Januszka, Americas regional head of global data services at HSBC Securities, explained how HSBC is collaborating with vendors to ensure they are both “working from the same user list”—i.e., ensuring both parties have a consistent and up-to-date list of who should be using data services, to minimize any usage reporting errors—while Kevin Green, head of global market data at York Capital Management, said that helping developers who aren’t licensing experts to understand what data they can use is an example of “where vendors can come in and advise on best practices.”

Another panel stressed the importance of collaboration with vendors to get the most bang for the buck and leverage existing relationships to include new services, and when data sources make policy changes, so user firms can properly implement those changes in a timely manner. “It’s like a marriage—we all need to be happy for this to work,” said Meltem Kilicoglu, head of market data business advisory compliance for market data services at Wells Fargo.

Meanwhile, industry participants are being forced to collaborate on compliance with the BCBS 239 risk data regulation from the Bank for International Settlements’ Basel Committee, where panelists said the guideline-like nature of the regulation—rather than being specifically prescriptive in its approach—has left the industry to work together to define how it should be applied.

Sometimes  cross-industry participation can fail spectacularly or stall, even with the best efforts of many involved, resulting in frustrated regulators then imposing heavy-handed, mandated rules. Or, in other circumstances, an industry can be cajoled to work together successfully, such as data industry association FISD, whose managing director Tom Davin is the latest inductee into the Inside Market Data Hall of Fame in recognition of his work there over a decade to bring the industry together—something he achieved by building a bigger membership base, establishing more frequent and further-afield events to capture local participation, and by establishing FISD’s Financial Information Associate certification program, which the body is now expanding with additional specialist certification areas.

And as a final example of collaboration at work, London-based market data consultancy and IT support provider CJC—which is currently preparing to roll out a Big Data Analytics platform—deserves a mention for winning our “Above & Beyond” Award for its fundraising efforts on behalf of the Comic Relief charity. Though the amount raised pales in comparison to that of charity days organized by interdealer brokers Icap and BGC Partners, the per-capita amount based on company headcount—and the fact that CJC used it as a team-building exercise for staff spread around the world in Hong Kong, London and New York—made the effort particularly impressive.

So if you have a similar effort that you’re particularly proud of, why not let us know—who knows, your collaboration could make you a contender for next year’s awards.

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