While several institutions now have log-ins for eCo’s CodeStore, at the time of writing the only institution that can see all of the available software is eCo itself. Of course, we’d love to change that and we’re encouraging all sellers to make their software viewable by all eCo participants, initially on an anonymised basis (hiding the seller name and any tell-tale branding) until specific buyers seek to know more. In the meantime, here’s some information about what is available…
When we’re not discussing a specific component (to take a current example, say in response to the question, Have you got an Equities position-keeping system?) we naturally find ourselves talking about thematic areas in which we discern an interest to source or supply software. Some of those that come up a lot include:
1. Regulatory reporting. Every financial firm has to spend more than they would choose developing new reporting capabilities. Hardly any see it as source of competitive edge. While all parties have necessarily developed the software they need to meet regulatory deadlines to date, there is much more on the horizon and no sign of a reduction in the pace at which further requirements will be added. The ability to avoid duplicative investment and especially to leverage the most agile reporting methodologies thus holds much appeal. Indeed, the main challenge in this space is how pervasive it is, especially once pre-trade checks are added in too. To start to scope this out, we recently ran a workshop at which seven top banks and a major European exchange sent along their domain experts so that we could begin to map the interest.
2. Compliance. There is also a wide interest in opportunities to mutualise the cost of the more established compliance functions, such as Anti-Money-Laundering checks (AML) and oversight of employees’ Personal Account (PA) trading activity.
3. Securities processing. Another area that is expensively affected by regulation is securities processing. After an epoch in which financial firms have sought to offer ever more products to clients in ever more jurisdictions, the need to implement new oversight and reporting regimes comprehensively and to rationalise legal entity structures can present a massive challenge. Most large banks are somewhere in a cycle of very considerable investment to re-platform their securities processing stacks so that it’s even feasible. Late last year we ran a workshop similar to that for regulatory reporting and continue to engage with many parties about their cost mutualisation options.
4. Market connectivity. Firms with global trading activity are only too aware of the cost of connectivity. In Equities markets, this comes from the need to maintain connections to very many exchanges; the large banks each connect to hundreds. As well as all of the exchange upgrades, firms must also keep up to date with competitive technology, whether that’s simply faster and more reliable code or investment in co-location facilities, FPGA cards and/or microwave masts. In Fixed Income markets rapid and as-yet uncertain changes in market structure add the further dimension of needing to plumb into a world of new SEF’s, not all of which will be around for ever. Unsurprisingly, some of the first software assets to be listed on eCo were in this space.
As you might expect, when you look at the actual software assets in the CodeStore, there is more particularity than you might expect from a consideration of themes. Currently we have a few dozen listings and where they lie in functional domains is illustrated here:
The eCo Participant Agreement
One of the reasons that you can’t see all of these online yet is that, as I wrote above, we’re still in the process of securing agreement from the sellers to grant view rights to all eCo participants. The other reason is that you’re probably not yet an eCo participant. This requires signing the eCo Participant Agreement, which we have tried to make the most signable document we can devise that gives reasonable non-disclosure protections to sellers, accepts the operational model of the CodeStore and assents in principle to trade on eCo terms. We aimed for ease and simplicity but the document is longer than we wished. To all eager signatories, I apologise. Despite the length, there isn’t anything in the Agreement that should make it unpalatable and we, of course, really want to see them signed!
For any firm that is in the process of reviewing the Agreement and wants a sneak peek at what the listings look like, Gavin, our CTO, has written an excellent mock sample that infringes no one’s IP; let us know if you’d like to see it.
Incidentally, we have been calling the software assets on eCo “components” since we started. We have long known it’s a misleading term but haven’t yet thought of a better one. A bottle of champagne awaits the first person to come up with the name that we subsequently use instead.
Finally, I must note that, even with full access rights, the software listed on the CodeStore is only the tip of the iceberg: we have knowledge of far more that lies undisclosed in the dark ocean depths of banking technology.