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Revisiting the Importance of Inventory Management in Collateral and Liquidity

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In this article in Securities Finance Monitor, Transcend’s CEO Bimal Kadikar discusses the opportunities for more effective liquidity and collateral management – and the potential benefits to the bottom line. A solid starting point is inventory management whereby firms can match collateral to needs, improve front-to-back office communications and increase operational efficiency and compliance.

Inventory management is a cornerstone of securities finance, funding and collateral management, but often gets little attention until it is too late. This should not be the case, as inventory management is the first thing that buy-side and sell-side firms should pay attention to when getting serious about collateral and liquidity management. Inventory management is the foundation on which efficient businesses are built, including putting context around a firm’s positions.

Theoretically, it should be possible to aggregate data easily, then buy or build technology to run reports and connect to counterparties later on. After all, there many vendors with algorithms and reports that help a user select the right collateral to deliver. Likewise, there are many ways to connect to the market, between point to point connectivity, FTP, SWIFT and cloud intranets. However, this plan does not always work out well in practice. The development of mono-line systems and use cases means that unless inventory and trade data is harmonized across the enterprise first, reports and counterparty connectivity largely falls short of expectations.

The common challenge that vendors and clients face is how comprehensive and normalized is the information being collected. A collateral management system with only 50% of a firm’s available position and inventory data is less than 50% effective at its objective: successfully delivering the right collateral at the right time or incentivizing the right business behavior to reduce costs, including better risk management.

The natural response to this situation is to collect all pockets of inventory into one pool so traders and allocators of collateral can pull information on all activity and holdings from a single source. This is the point where most firms pause. For example, do they know where all their inventory information is held and in what form across products and geographies? Are all the pricing sources across inventory consistent, or did they grow up independently because of divisions or acquisitions? Do collateral managers know the details behind vast amounts of security line items, CUSIPs and ISINs to make smart decisions? The inventory management organization process can be the start of a reasonably large project.

Why invest strategically?

It often takes an external stimulus to get serious about strategic inventory management; recent mandates for effective liquidity and collateral management are good examples. But it can’t just sound good on paper: the benefits need to be impactful to the bottom line. As a result, it is often helpful to conduct a cost-benefit analysis that shows what is at stake. As a one-time exercise, this can demonstrate the payback on inventory management. We have seen this in practice across multiple firms that initially looked at collateral management technology for reports and straight-through processing, then came to find that the more inventory was available in the system that significant returns could be generated. These returns can more than pay for the cost of an inventory management and optimized collateral technology system combined.

Regulators across the globe have increased their scrutiny on collateral management as well. As part of the Recovery & Resolution Planning and/or Reg YY collateral management requirements, firms have to prove enterprise level collateral and liquidity management capabilities. Very few firms can claim compliance to these requirements in an automated way and will require significant changes in the overall platform. This could be a great opportunity for firms to invest in enterprise level real-time inventory management capabilities that will help them comply with regulatory pressures but also provide significant business and operational benefits for the firm.

Tracking monetary value to collateral utilization

Proper inventory management requires the ability to efficiently utilize collateral by knowing what positions are available at any given time along with having rich context around each position (see Exhibit 1). The context includes for how long will a position be available; who is the owner; is the position owned by the firm or a client; can it be rehypothecated; and where can it be pledged at the lowest haircut. This enrichment process is largely still not conducted by every firm. More often, a lack of understanding the value of collateral results in the asset owner simply losing out with no benefit to anyone else, and a net loss to the market as assets are tied up for the duration of a trade.

Exhibit 1: Generating results from robust inventory management

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Source: Transcend Street Solutions

A robust view of collateral also means that front to back office communications become more precise and efficient, especially across global firms with different pools of assets. A successful inventory management process can reduce operational duplications, as one operations team can now see and manage one aggregated set of information about the firm’s holdings. More information on inventory means that front office traders can have a real-time window into what collateral is available to trade or post. This is a central tenet of the collateral trading business and serves to augment a trader’s opportunities in the marketplace.

Enhanced optimization opportunities

As firms create central collateral funding desks, reliable inventory management enables the efficient allocation of collateral for proper matching of sources and uses.  This means matching the right asset with the right liability.  Doing so could mean real savings to both capital and liquidity. But having the best model is only as good as one’s ability to see the full collateral picture.  A robust inventory management platform should improve only the visibility into the quantity of collateral held across an organization. It should also improve the confidence and ability of the organization to take actions based on that improved transparency. This better information will incentive trading behavior to maximize financial efficiencies comprehensively across balance sheet, funding and liquidity. Conversely, a collateral shortfall or poor data means that a funding trader is more likely to look outside the firm to access supply, likely resulting in increased balance sheet costs and capital usage.

In a real-world example of how collateral optimization works best with effective inventory management, a collateral manager may want or need to post G7 government bonds as collateral. Presuming five different collateral pools, there are multiple scenarios that can occur:

  1. With visibility into one collateral pools:
    1. The manager would have a limited inventory to source, resulting in few options and the potential need to look outside the firm.
    2. The manager may need to use cash, which would remove the firm’s investment options in other business areas.
    3. The manager could elect to repo in government bonds or borrow in a securities loan to post as collateral. Depending on the scarcity of the government bonds, they could either be paid to lend cash or be obligated to pay to borrow.
  2. With visibility into all five collateral pools:
    1. The manager could evaluate the cost of collateral pre-trade at an affiliate and borrow that collateral in exchange for a known fee that can be priced into a transaction in advance.
      1. This pre-trade analysis can become part of the daily operational trading activities of the firm.
    2. The manager and a collateral operations teams have a better opportunity to allocate cheapest to deliver collateral across all pledge requirements. Avoiding the need to go outside firm helps minimizes balance sheet and RWA costs.

Real-time operational efficiencies

Aggregating collateral yields operational benefits that may be difficult to quantify up front but that result in long-term benefits to the firm. A visibility into position breaks and errors in real time means faster response times to fails. In an era where repeated and unresolved fails have a direct financial impact, faster resolution of fails means money saved in the form of reduced operational RWA, better customer satisfaction, a reduced number of delivery instructions and a faster escalation when greater risks are identified.

Inventory management provides a framework to address typically buried settlement and operations risk. The ability to see and think through potential pitfalls that may have been hidden as a result of lack of inventory clarity gives both the front and back office more precise decision-making capabilities. This allows for root cause analysis of breaks and errors, ideally leading to a virtual elimination of the most frequent causes of fails.

The result of improved operational efficiency means lower collateral turnover and the costs this entails. Our clients also report an improved experience for clients and counterparties in the collateralized trading process. Greater operational efficiencies have a direct and positive outcome of the trading process.

A wider benefit to the firm

Inventory management projects can often be a starting point to greater benefits for a financial services firm. I have already mentioned operational and pricing benefits, but these are just the start. Once an inventory consolidation project is underway, firms may find duplicate vendors and functional roles that can be reorganized as cost savings measures. They may also find that additional trading and portfolio management opportunities appear as a result of better information flows. Inventory management can be difficult to consider, especially for complex institutions, but the financial, operational and risk management benefits are nearly always worth the effort.

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Optimizing Your Collateral Resiliency and Recovery

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Balancing collateral optimization and regulatory compliance front to back through “Holistic Collateral Architecture”

July 28, 2017 

Collateral Business Transformation

Financial institutions today are increasingly evaluating how best to manage their collateral needs in the face of dual challenges – how to adapt their business and operational structures to become more efficient and how to respond to and comply with ongoing demands around changing regulatory requirements. These issues resemble a seemingly difficult task, like transferring passengers from one train to another, while both trains are in motion. Firms that approach front office transformation challenges, decoupled from regulatory and compliance challenge, will miss opportunities to solve larger systemic issues in a strategic and integrated fashion. We strongly believe that Technology strategy and architecture can play a critical role as firms evolve to meet these challenges.This article looks at how businesses can strategically address their collateral and liquidity management operations and regulatory needs by adopting a more holistic integration approach that takes into account their organizational complexity, unique business requirements and their compliance mandates. Firms that get this strategy right will establish a competitive advantage and maximize limited budgets by significantly enhancing their front office capabilities, while also meeting regulatory requirements.

Managing Business Transformations and Regulatory Challenges Simultaneously

Global regulations such as Dodd-Frank, Basel, MIFID and EMIR are demanding significant changes to securities finance and derivatives businesses which are primary drivers of collateral flow. An organization’s overall portfolio mix dictates the cost of doing business, and having an integrated view of the complete liquidity situation is critical and can’t be done in isolation. These regulatory and economic forces are driving firms to integrate their collateral businesses that traditionally operated as silos.

At the same time, new global regulations are mandating that firms implement specific capabilities and requirements that are often quite broad, impacting many aspects of collateral and liquidity management capabilities. Consequently, these requirements are quite onerous to accomplish especially because they need to be implemented at an enterprise level.

What is Required for Front Office Optimization?

Typically, financial business units were structured and incentivized to take a highly localized approach to addressing the collateral requirements for their specific business lines. This historical constraint was driven by a need for domain expertise and reinforced by budgeting protocols and performance expectations that were more closely aligned with local returns on capital, revenue and income. In the current environment, making decisions within a single function misses the opportunity to achieve broader benefits to drive valuable optimization across an enterprise. The outlying boxes in the diagram below illustrate the standard, localized organizations that exist in most firms today, where individual business units make collateral decisions without consideration of their sister business’ needs.

Firms that move beyond the silo approach and evaluate and prioritize collateral and liquidity requirements in a more integrated fashion across all their collateral management processes are better positioned to ensure the optimal allocation of capital and costs, realize efficiency gains and enhanced profitability. Some organizations are doing this by establishing collateral optimization units that have a mandate to implement technology and organizational changes across multiple businesses on a front-to-back basis. Potential areas that organizations are evaluating include maximizing stress liquidity, streamlining operational processing, reducing the balance sheet by retaining high-quality HQLA and improving the firm’s funding profile by reducing liquidity buffers against bad trades for non-LCR compliant transactions.

What is Required for Regulatory Compliance?

While many front office businesses typically focus on creating optimal technology architecture to improve financial return metrics, there are specific regulatory-focused technology enhancements that additionally need to be implemented. In most cases, these regulatory requirements are implemented by compliance and/or operations areas potentially away from the front office functions. This is a big challenge as these requirements are at the firm level and most firms don’t have a coordinated collateral architecture in the front. In particular, Recovery and Resolution Planning (RRP) requirements, Qualified Financial Contracts (QFC) specifications, Secured Financing Transaction Reporting (SFTR) are few examples that have pressing requirements and deadlines in the near future.

These regulations are creating significant demands on large institutions’ business and technology architecture:

  • Track and report on firm and counterparty collateral by jurisdiction (RRP – SR 14-1)
  • Track sources and uses of collateral at a security level across legal entities (RRP – 2017 guidance)
  • Conduct scenario-planning to simulate market stresses, such as a ratings downgrade or other environmental changes, that estimate impact on collateral and liquidity position in stress scenarios on a periodic basis (RRP – SR 14-1 and 2017 guidance)
  • Deliver daily information on their collateral and liquidity positions. Specific QFC (Qualified Financial Contract) reports will cover position-level, counterparty-level exposures, legal agreements and detailed collateral information. (QFC Specifications)
  • Report on all Securities Financing transactions (SFTR – Europe)

To fully meet these compliance deadlines within the next 12 to 24 months, most firms do not have the luxury of adopting a strategic approach to re-engineer their business and technology architecture and have been forced to take tactical steps to ensure compliance.  However, it is likely that achieving compliance in a short timeframe will create huge business and operational overhead costs, as one-off solutions may not be tightly integrated and may require additional manual work and reconciliations over time. The ongoing need for changes to front office business processes will have an impact on compliance solutions – potentially causing firms to significantly increase the operational overhead of supporting these businesses.

This can lead to a rather unfortunate outcome, in that costs for collateral businesses can significantly increase, despite working hard to drive cost & capital efficiencies.

A BETTER APPROACH – HOLISTIC ARCHITECTURE

Firms that choose to tackle these operational and regulatory challenges head-on and invest to create and establish an integrated collateral architecture across business lines will have a significant competitive advantage. In a dynamic marketplace where business needs and regulatory requirements are constantly evolving, a component-based architecture can be an effective approach. This allows seemingly complex processes to be managed through careful consideration of the distinct business and technology architecture elements of each stakeholder to achieve the appropriate balance for their strategy in an effective manner.

Key Components of Holistic Collateral Architecture

Here are some important drivers to consider in your planning:

  • Real-time inventory management capabilities across business lines that can be leveraged by both the front and back-office. This is a critical component of the strategic architecture, with the key requirement of knowing firm, counterparty and client collateral by jurisdiction.
  • QFC trades repository that is integrated across all Secured Financing Transactions as well as derivatives trades that can be linked with positions, margin calls and collateral postings.
  • Harmonized collateral schedules / legal agreements repository across ISDA, CSAs, (G)MRAs, (G)MSLAs, triparty, etc.
  • Enabling collateral traceability across legal entities with the ability to produce sources and uses of collateral will ensure regulatory compliance, as well as the ability to implement appropriate transfer pricing rules to drive business incentives in the right places.
  • Utilizing optimization algorithms with targeted analytics can maximize a variety of different business opportunities and most importantly recommend actions through seamless operational straight through processing.

This transition can be difficult for firms as it will need to cut across business and functional silos and it can have significant people and organizational hurdles along with technology challenges. One key point is that these changes don’t need to happen all at the same time and firms can prioritize the approach in a phased manner in line with their pain points and priorities as long as leadership is behind the vision of the holistic architecture. Many firms have started this journey and those who can make demonstrable progress in this evolution will have a significant competitive advantage in the new era.

How Transcend can help…

We have leveraged decades of Wall Street experience to develop strategic collateral and liquidity solutions for the largest, most sophisticated banks and financial institutions. Recognizing the unique requirements and opportunities financial organizations have to optimize liquidity and collateral across business units, we have developed solutions that address the need for Collateral Optimization, Agreements Insights, a Margin Dashboard, Real-Time Inventory and Position Management and Liquidity Analytics. Separately or in combination, these tools will help your firm take a more strategic approach to optimizing the best assets across your entire portfolio and businesses to maximize your profitability.

To discuss your firm’s requirements, contact us.

References:

  • January 2013: Basel III: The Liquidity Coverage Ratio and liquidity risk monitoring tools
  • October 2013: Basel Committee on Banking Supervision Working Paper No. 24 – Liquidity stress testing: a survey of theory, empirics and current industry and supervisory practices
  • January 24, 2014: Federal Reserve Bank (FRB) released Supervision and Regulation letter (SR letter 14-1) entitled “Heightened Supervisory Expectations for Certain Bank Holding Companies,” and Attachment Principles and Practices for Recovery and Resolution Preparedness
  • SR letter 12-1 entitled “Consolidated Supervision Framework for Large Financial Institutions”
  • SR 14-1: Additional Guidance from Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System entitled “Guidance for 2017 §165(d) Annual Resolution Plan Submissions by Domestic Covered Companies that Submitted Resolution Plans in July 2015”

Collateral and Liquidity Data Management: the next big challenge for financial institutions

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The problem is well known: financial institutions have data all over the place. Small institutions tend to face straight-forward challenges, while large ones must identify not only where data are hidden but how can it be aggregated without disrupting other processes. Thankfully, new advances in collateral and liquidity technology are ready to make solutions cost-effective and relatively painless to implement.

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Transcend Street Solutions Adds Jon Beyman to Board of Advisors

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NEW YORK, NY  November 05, 2015

Transcend Street Solutions announced today that Jon Beyman has joined the firm’s Board of Advisors. Jon will help the team in business and product development strategies along with building industry alliances for the recently launched CoSMOS product.

Transcend’s innovative CoSMOS platform is designed for the front office, enabling firms to manage their collateral and liquidity management challenges across business silos. Built with a modular architecture, CoSMOS collates, harmonizes, mines and analyses collateral and liquidity data across the enterprise, all in real-time.

“Regulatory and economic pressures have created significant challenges for financial firms to manage and optimize their collateral, liquidity and capital positions across the firm,” said Jon Beyman. “Transcend’s CoSMOS is a very powerful and innovative solution to these industry problems. I am very excited to join this dynamic team and be part of their growth journey.”

Jon Beyman has served as a Global Head of Operations and Technology of Citibank’s Institutional Client Group, a position he held from 2008 through 2014. Jon was responsible for the development of software applications that supported the bank’s market-making and trading businesses, back office securities settlement, global payment networks, custody networks, portfolio management, risk management and financial management systems. In addition, he managed and was accountable for the settlement, processing, control and regulatory compliance of US$5 trillion worth of daily transactions in the 100 countries where Citi does business.

“We are proud to have such an experienced industry veteran join our team,” said Bimal Kadikar, CEO and Founder of Transcend Street Solutions. “His broad background in financial services and deep understanding of operations and technology make him an ideal person to guide us through our growth.” “CoSMOS offers an industry leading capabilities built with the state of the art technology and we are excited to have Jon help us maximize the opportunity ahead of us”.

About Transcend Street Solutions:
Transcend Street Solutions is a technology company focused on developing solutions for sell-side and buy-side firms in capital markets. The Transcend team has decades of hands-on experience at leading global banks in capital markets, trading, funding, prime brokerage, clearing and operations. The team has a successful track record of developing and delivering enterprise-wide, front- to back-office strategies for solving complex business challenges.

Transcend recently launched CoSMOS, an enterprise-wide collateral and liquidity management solution for the front office. Built with a modular architecture, CoSMOS collates, harmonizes, mines and analyses collateral and liquidity data across the enterprise – all integrated in real-time. CoSMOS is successfully deployed at one of the largest global banks across multiple business areas.

For more information, please visit: http://www.transcendstreet.com