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Reflections of the CEO

The past two weeks have given me the opportunity to participate in a number of events that highlight the creativity and entrepreneurial nature of our business. ISLA has itself made a strong statement around the future direction of travel and the pivotal role it plays within the market.

Last week, I was delighted to participate in J.P. Morgan’s inaugural Agency Lending and Financing Forum. This event in some ways epitomises where our industry is today. One of the speakers commented that in the earlier days of securities lending, it was perhaps a much simpler business with no real regard for things such as collateral composition and the Risk Weighted Asset profile of counterparts. The regulatory agenda post crisis has essentially changed all of that, and the business today is far more complex, driven by many binding constraints on both sides of the transaction that can change over time. Whilst this complexity creates challenges, it also offers opportunities to those that both understand this changing landscape and can capitalise on them. One of the clear messages from the J.P. Morgan session was one of creativity and flexibility being key drivers of success in the industry today.

On Thursday, I chaired the opening session at the second SLT Securities Finance Technology Symposium in London. Continuing on the themes of creativity and flexibility from the J.P. Morgan client conference, the Symposium although very different in terms of content, ran to a very similar drum beat. The panel I chaired looked at how we should think about data more broadly in the context of automation. As we look at our markets, the role of data falls into two distinct camps. The first is regulatory driven, with in particular the mandatory reporting regime that is in part SFTR forcing the industry to shine a light on often long forgotten elements of its trading and settlement infrastructures. I have argued in the past that once you see past this short term realignment of our business from a data perspective, it provides a platform for the second role of data in terms of implied automation and driving revenues. This second more opportunistic way of leveraging data can only flourish if we get the basic data bedrock correct. To achieve that, we need to align the work we are leading on around SFTR, with the commonality that so-called ‘Common Domain Models’ can provide.

This week saw ISLA make a clear statement of intent around how we want our markets and industry to be perceived. The new ISLA website that was launched on the 8th May, aims to provide easier navigation and enhanced search capabilities to find sharper and more relevant content. We have purposely made more of our content available, so as to create an open and transparent environment for our members, regulators and policymakers and other industry stakeholders. This should drive a better understanding of our industry, and the pivotal role it plays within the capital markets eco-system. Our general content and messaging has for too long been hidden behind firewalls and login requirements, that has failed to deliver on our core strategies. The new website is an integral part of the fabric of the Association, and will going forward be the springboard for more relevant and timely communications.

Finally, it was pleasing to see how the industry can collaborate on initiatives that are unrelated to our business, and help those parts of our communities and individuals who are less fortunate. The first Securities Finance Spring Charity Ball was an opportunity for the industry to gather around an important social theme and generate much needed funds for the great work undertaken by Crisis, whilst raising awareness of these issues that may not be seen by all. Homelessness is something many of us have never had to endure, and it was good to see the industry coming together for a worthwhile cause.

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