Data's Role in Navigating Hong Kong Market

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As Credit Suisse found, reference data is a key to supporting its business, undertaking work to improve the accuracy and timeliness of its data. A firm executive related these efforts at this week's Asia Pacific Financial Information Conference

On arriving here in Hong Kong for the first time early this week for the Asia-Pacific Financial Information Conference (APFIC), I had, I admit, an embarrassingly difficult time finding my way around on foot at street level. In the Wan Chai district where I stayed and the nearby Admiralty area, where Incisive Media's office here is, a tangle of highways effectively cuts off pedestrian traffic at different points, unless you know what you're doing navigating walkways at third-floor level that knit together different shopping centers, malls and office buildings.

Similarly, to be able to function in the Hong Kong market, it's becoming increasingly necessary to navigate reference data, as Srini Venkataramani, global head of reference data strategy at Credit Suisse and keynote speaker for the second day of APFIC on November 9, related.

The regulatory and business landscape in Hong Kong is such that reference data provides necessary support functions and has become indispensable as a key to enabling business, Venkataramani said, referring to his own firm's experience in this market. Most inefficiencies – about 80% – of redundant processing and other issues are due to a lack of timely and quality data, he said.

Data is also fundamental to client service, not just supporting trading operations. Managing data well requires proper organization, working with governance and having the necessary data management infrastructure. Banks can and do get into trouble due to the lack of these items. Data is also necessary to support growth, added Venkataramani.

Credit Suisse had realized this, he said, and on seeing that as much as 40% of its client data was incorrect and that it had been working with redundant or out-of-date settlement instruction data, the firm launched a strategic reference data management program, enlisting service provider partners.

Data centralization has been part of this program and the firm's strategy. That technique is something I will be reporting more about, as APFIC attendees and I heard from service providers and end-user representatives on a panel discussion I moderated at the conference, with different perspectives about what centralization means and its value.

As Venkataramani explained, it's much easier to devise a market strategy if one has uniform data infrastructure to make knowledge transfer consistent and accurate. Just as one cannot understand where one is going on the streets of Hong Kong without understanding the maps or how the walkways work, to reach destinations, so it is for the role of reference data in the market.

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