September 15, 2008

CityIQ has released the results of a global survey of the corporate actions marketplace, carried out in association with SWIFT. Announcing the results, Paul Wiltshire, managing director of CityIQ said in a press release, "we believe this to be one of the largest surveys of the corporate actions marketplace that has ever been undertaken, with 137 individuals from over 100 buy side, sell side and custodian organizations in the US, Europe, Asia and Africa taking part.

The vast majority of respondents have automated at least part of the corporate actions process. However while areas such as data capture and notifications have been automated by the majority of respondents, other functionality such as workflow is still only enjoyed by a minority of those who responded. It is clear from the results that for many organizations, automation is still very much a work in progress. Nearly half of those surveyed reported that they were either in the process of automation or were thinking of increasing levels of automation in the next twelve months. However the increased automation of corporate actions processing is not a forgone conclusion. Many organizations cited competing priorities for investment, while a minority believed that further automation of the process was being held back by the lack of appropriate functionality in vendor offerings.

The main reasons given for automation were volume growth, avoiding losses and containing operating costs. The relative importance of both volume growth and avoiding losses have increased significantly since our last survey - no doubt reflecting the increased levels of both activity and complexity in the corporate actions environment. Perhaps the key finding of the survey was a demand for further standardization, with most organizations calling for tighter standards and validation of market practice as a way to improve market quality. Of the various initiatives currently underway the activities of SWIFT, SMPG and the ISO were seen as being most likely to have an impact on both data quality and straight through processing.