The Bucket List for Reference Data


In the spirit of list-making for the holiday season, I started reading about bucket lists-lists for actors to marry, mountains to climb, and dances to learn. But in the reference data industry, there are a few more unique things that could be added to our lists of life goals-a few more items that we might all be able to tick off sometime soon.
After writing a New York Times bestseller, having dinner with Oprah Winfrey, and taking up salsa, I think it would make sense to add ‘witnessing the introduction of a universal business entity identifier,' and ‘seeing corporate actions being standardized at the issuer-level.' A few years back these would have been considered impossible achievements, but the situation has changed, particularly in the past month.
For business entity identification, the big shift has come in terms of a regulatory push to make it happen. The US Department of the Treasury's Office of Financial Research has issued its first policy statement, and it is all about legal entity identification. With the current level of regulatory involvement, it seems like the 68% of ISITC Europe conference-goers who said we will have a universally acceptable business entity identifier within two to five years, may well be onto something. In fact, in the US, it seems like it will probably happen even sooner, and data managers are now saying they see this as becoming a highlight of their careers.
The same can be true for corporate actions. There has been significant development in recent years in terms of improving messaging standards and generating consensus on the fact data tagging standard XBRL can be used to standardize corporate actions announcements at source-level. The missing piece here has been the issuer engagement.
Many would admit that there has been too little attention paid to getting the issuers involved as they are the ones that have to standardize, but new opportunities for closing that bridge are now starting to see the light of day. Standards from the international standards organization GS1 are already used by many issuers for products in other industries, and some hope using one of these standards as a universal corporate event identifier could help get the issuers behind the existing standardization activities.
The hope now is that there will be increased collaboration in the industry to ensure agreement and adoption of the standards-and finally get to where we want to be. I don't think I'm the only one ready to move on to the rest of my bucket list. Happy Holidays!

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