Reference Data Utility on the WFIC Agenda

Bi-annual conference promises insight into where the proposed SPReD utility may take data management

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At the tail-end of the summer, the Securities Product Reference Data utility (SPReD) became a hot topic. Its reported backers, JP Morgan, Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs, were not the ones doing the talking, however, as no official announcement of the service was made, nor had one been made through today, October 2.

Nevertheless, some other major industry firms will be speaking more generally about the prospect of a reference data utility (RDU) like SPReD at next week's World Financial Information Conference (WFIC) in New Orleans, organized by the FISD industry association, which addresses data, trading and regulatory compliance issues of concern. Representatives of the Intercontinental Exchange, State Street and Dun & Bradstreet are scheduled to share thoughts on how data providers can fit into an RDU format, among other questions.

In a column shortly after the original news of plans for SPReD surfaced, I called the venture an effort by the sell side to recoup control of data management and processes. Part of the planned discussion at WFIC is expected to explore the differences between how the buy side and the sell side view SPReD or any other RDU.

An interesting question for such a discussion is how the benefits that the sell side—and SPReD's backers in particular—may reap from its use could trickle down or flow over to the buy side. Would sell-side firms' greater efficiency and command of reference data make for more accurate market information and dealings, which buy-side firms and funds would then be able to leverage? This could be something to follow, presuming plans for SPReD are soon finalized by its backers with SmartStream, the data services company whose Reference Data Utility service is slated to be SPReD's engine.

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