Sibos: A Good Place To Check ISO 20022 Progress


Industry professionals plan to take stock of progress on the ISO 20022 messaging standard used for corporate actions, in a key session at the Sibos conference in Boston on September 29

Another Sibos in the Americas region is upon us, this time in Boston, seven years after it was last held there.

This mammoth securities and payments transaction operations conference, typically held in the largest convention center in its host city, with several streams of panel discussions and an exhibition hall three or four times as large as the Sifma Tech Expo in its best years, is a good place to take the pulse of progress—or lack thereof—on standards relevant to reference data, such as the legal entity identifier and ISO 20022.

Since the last Sibos in the Americas, in Toronto in 2011, there have been significant developments with those standards. At that time, the industry and its regulators were just beginning to define, understand and act upon upgrading ISO 15022 to ISO 20022, to figure out how business identifier codes and trader identifications relate to the LEI, and to contend with risk management rules such as European Market Infrastructure Regulation (EMIR).

It's a little disingenuous to say ISO 20022 only became an issue in 2011, actually. An interesting session planned for this Sibos is one on its first day, slated to cover "10 Years of ISO 20022." Although the ISO 20022 messaging standard, which is being applied to corporate actions operations in the reference data space, was starting to gain greater attention and support in 2011—as evidenced at that year's Sibos, as recently as 2013—there were doubts about its acceptance.

Two years after the Toronto Sibos, many users were still retaining ISO 15022, keeping the transition at a standstill or limiting its progress to the pace of slowly poured molasses.

Representatives of Swift (the messaging standards industry cooperative that organizes Sibos), Citi, Bank of America Merrill Lynch and other industry organizations and interested parties who are scheduled to discuss the decade-long history of ISO 20022, may or may not agree on whether ISO 20022 has produced better results as far as making processing corporate actions more efficient.

As a rule, with regulation and standards that Inside Reference Data covers, none of them are ever complete within a year, and more often than not, are multi-year efforts, first to complete their provisions with universal agreement from regulators and the industry, and then to implement compliance methods and systems. The only certainty for ISO 20022 is that now is a good time, with its ups and downs over the past few years, to make an assessment on its acceptance and effectiveness.

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