Buy-Side Technology Awards 2016: Best Buy-Side Product for 2016—Commcise

commcise-product-bst2016
Ian Robertson, Amrish Ganatra and Jonathan Davies

The first of two categories decided by the Waters journalists, announced on the afternoon of the BST Awards luncheon in London, where the previous 29 winners were considered as potential recipients, goes to London-based startup Commcise, thanks to its Commcise Buy platform. The offering is designed to allow buy-side firms to more efficiently and transparently manage their commission sharing agreements (CSAs) by providing them with a single, integrated platform that supports reconciliation, invoice management, broker voting, commission management, and reporting.

This is the second straight year that a new product has won the product of the year category in the BST Awards, after Algomi’s Honeycomb platform, a corporate bond information network designed to provide buy-side firms with transparency around the execution of illiquid bond trades, scooped the award in 2015. 

To fully appreciate Commcise Buy’s applicability to the challenges facing the global asset management industry, it’s important to take a step back and consider the current regulatory landscape. Regulation, specifically relating to soft-dollar arrangements, whereby asset managers use CSAs that allow them to trade with any broker that provides best execution without having to pay that broker a bundled commission rate, is receiving a lot of interest right now, especially, although not exclusively, in Europe. The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and the European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) have sought to introduce greater transparency around the practice to ensure that asset managers do not pass on unnecessary costs to their investors. According to Commcise, asset managers spend more than $12 billion of their clients’ money globally each year through dealing commissions to pay for research via a bundled commission rate, and typically do not have adequate tools to manage this spend. 

By winning this category, Commicise joins an elite group of recipients in the winners’ circle: Markit (2008); Eagle Investment Systems (2009); Cadis, now part of IHS Markit (2010), SmartStream Technologies (2011); Advise Technologies (2012); LCH.Clearnet (2013); Vermilion Software (2014); and Algomi (2015). Commcise claims to be the only platform currently on the market that allows buy-side firms to manage their research payment accounts (RPAs) in an auditable, transparent and regulatory compliant manner. Other providers in this space, of which there are a handful, would no doubt contest that assertion, but what cannot be argued is Commcise’s appeal to asset managers around the globe: It has agreements in place with over 200 firms worldwide, which, considering it only opened its doors for business just over a year ago, is no mean feat. 

To fully appreciate Commcise Buy’s applicability to the challenges facing the global asset management industry, it’s important to take a step back and consider the current regulatory landscape.
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