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Market-Data Dilemmas Aired At Conference

Market-data execs talk about what's wrong in the industry and how to fix it at a recent conference in Washington, D.C.

It's only October, but market-data executives are already writing letters to Santa. Instead of mailing them to the North Pole, though, these executives voiced their wishes at this week's World Financial Information Conference in Washington D.C. During one panel, organized by the Software & Information Industry Association's Financial Information Services Division, market-data customers outlined various issues they would like to see the industry address.

Stable-element master files topped the gift list of John Bottega, product manager in Environment-Enterprise/Data Solutions in Global Markets and Investment Banking at Merrill Lynch. He says he'd like to see standard identifiers for elements as well as a single container at each firm to hold its data.

"The impediment with implementation of an integrated security master is the fact that everybody calls the same thing something different," explains Bottega.

In addition, Bottega notes integration as another common challenge for achieving a single security-master file. "Someone can put the perfect security master on the roof of the building and we still won't be able to implement it," he says. "Emerging vendors could get into that and provide some support in helping firms integrate their solutions within the firm."

Keith Michaud, who manages services at Capital Group Research, says he'd like to see market-data vendors focus on improving global services.

"There's a plethora of products out there now, so we really don't need additional products," says Michaud. "We need improvement in certain ways -- better availability, reliability, portability, and to be able to mix and match those products."

Michaud explains that a global vendor agreement would get rid of "cherry-picking," where only individual problems are solved, instead of problem-solving from a complete business perspective.

Strong Capital Management's Dave Van Hecke says market-data departments are grappling with administrative reporting between firms, vendors and exchanges.

Van Hecke, systems administrator of market-data feeds, proposes various solutions to this challenge, including a centralized industry interface for administrative information or a common reporting standard utilized by all participants.

Another focus during the discussion was standardization of security symbols at Wall Street firms, both for external as well as internal communication.

Merrill Lynch's Bottega notes that wishes only come true if someone initiates solving the problems. "There has to be a push from consumers," he says. "But where is this on the priority list?"

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