How to Excel in your Post-Trade Digitalisation Workflow

A senior manager at a major bank noted at a recent conference that some staff spent well over 60% of their time in email, chat and spreadsheets.  As we complete the journey from paper to digital, with increased compliance and regulatory burden in our industry, is there an opportunity to innovate here?

A lot of post-trade workflows are spent managing exceptions and reconciliation breaks, which means viewing data from different systems in a normalised way. Spreadsheets lend themselves to this challenge and have become the norm since they do not care what the source is. So long as the data is tabular and there is a common key across systems you can just copy the data across or re-enter it.

Alastair Rutherford, MD Ascendant Strategy says:

“Getting on top of all the data exchanges and workflows that occur to support post-trade activities is a key element of any Digital strategy in Capital Markets organisations. To industrialise post-trade, and make a step-function reduction in TCO, firms must understand these processes properly in the context of their target operating model, and implement automation that complements their core applications.”

post-trade workflow


There is a rich ecosystem of tools and applications to provide the glue such as external data lookup or calculation tools. Once you have added that glue it becomes transportable to your peers. Those with whom you share these spreadsheets can see exactly what you see and the method behind your conclusions.

Well, not quite… if you want to modify the recipe in your calculations, a new spreadsheet needs to be sent. When speaking to your peers (especially outside the organisation) how do you know you are looking at the same spreadsheet? What happens if the data that drives the calculation is changing or perhaps only available for you? What happens if you have incorrectly entered some of that data? Before long you have a huge pile of legacy, complicated spreadsheets, hopefully, accurate for the moment they were created but with a context and scenario unclear in the document and certainly unclear to anyone auditing it. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that Accenture has estimated £125bn of complexity costs in pre-trade and post-trade workflows.

The solution here is to use a common set of tools in an environment which is centralised and maintained. Platforms such as Symphony can deliver the environment securely, meeting the needs of Information Security. However, the tools need to allow users common access to shared data with the appropriate interface to meet the needs within the post-trade workflow.

At ipushpull, we are seeing a great deal of interest in our collaborative data platform to deliver exactly this – the ability to share data in real-time between groups of users, for workflow tools to rapidly enable decisions to be made which are then fully audited, but also the ability to rapidly adapt.

The success of the spreadsheet has been its ability to provide a quick solution to a business problem which is generally planned to be temporary. Over time, however, the overhead of navigating and maintaining the collection of spreadsheets has become too high. ipushpull addresses this challenge by providing an ecosystem for collaborative workflow across the post-trade community, delivering efficiency savings in terms of time spent converting data, but also cost savings in terms of accuracy – reducing the data errors means fewer resolutions. Fewer resolutions mean more efficiency savings.

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