Many firms are struggling to see the added value of moving to the ISO 20022 standard for corporate actions processing, according to research examining adoption and attitudes towards standards conducted by SmartStream.
The research, ‘The Waiting Game: Standards in Corporate Actions Processing’, is based on interviews conducted over the summer with senior executives and corporate actions managers in the UK and US.
Those conversations revealed widespread adoption of ISO 15022 for outbound messages, averaging around 90% in the majority of medium to large organisations, although this figure drops substantially for inbound messages from clients. This suggests that more needs to be done on an industry-wide scale to encourage take up by all market participants. In terms of sustained uptake of the existing standard, 56% of those surveyed expect ISO 15022 encoded messages to increase and none expected a decrease.
While adoption has, to date, been encouraging, many firms surveyed noted issues around lengthy implementation due to technical challenges. They also highlighted flaws such as free text areas and the over use of unstructured narrative by issuers that are holding back automation.
The research revealed that while some of these are tackled by the next iteration, ISO 20022, many firms are questioning the sense of now moving to the new standard. In particular, they queried whether the ISO 20022 did enough to address these shortfalls to justify another lengthy project. As a result the prevailing attitude among both the US and Europe firms appears to be one of ‘wait and see’.
Paul Phillips, senior business development consultant at SmartStream, said: “This new research supports what we’ve been hearing for some time, namely that ISO 15022 has been a step forward, albeit one that has come with lengthy and, in some cases, very complex projects. However, the result is that as the ISO 15022 standard continues to be adopted and used, many see little added value of having to go through much the same process again, so soon, with ISO 20022.
“The market could perhaps be persuaded if this new standard offered any considerable benefit over its XML structuring but that appears to be missing, or at the very least hasn’t been well communicated to the user community. When you also consider the on-going budgetary pressures it’s no surprise that there are many firms with little appetite for yet more changes that offer little reward in terms of improved STP [straight-through processing] rates or efficiency savings,” he added.
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