TestAhead: Picking up speed in the integration of SDS products

The “hot phase” of integration projects starts with the import of newly delivered software into the internal integration testing environment: Within no time, extensive technical and functional tests have to ensure that existing processes as well as new functionalities work seamlessly across all systems and interfaces and are fully operational with one’s own databases.

Hence, the phase of system integration is characterised by high time pressure and staff costs from IT and software tests divisions. Errors encountered in this project phase cause additional effort for analysis and administration putting project management to the test time and again.

US withholding tax – QI agreement – a cause for alarm?

On 28 September, the WM seminar on the US withholding tax took place in Frankfurt. Due to the recent developments in this field, the seminar was completely booked, the conference room was densely packed and the speakers from Ernst & Young, Commerzbank and HSBC Trinkaus were welcomed by a highly interested audience.

AEoI: business as usual or still uncharted territory?

The 14th AEoI congress organised by Osney Media took place on the 14-15 September in London. The sheer number of more than 140 participants shows the unabated interest in information on CRS. While FATCA is slowly becoming business as usual after the first reporting periods, the implementation of CRS in operations and IT is still in progress and entails corresponding challenges. Precisely this aspect was the common thread running through many presentations, starting from the welcome address by the chairman John Shoemaker (UBS).

They want it all, and they want it now – challenges with MiFIR transaction reporting

Many financial service providers are currently facing the question how to represent the requirements for MiFIR (Markets in Financial Instruments Regulation) transaction reporting according to article 26, becoming effective as of 2018, as well as for the upcoming SFTR (Securities Financing Transaction Regulation) in their own system environment. To answer this question, it is worth looking at the most important requirements to be met in this context.

Consolidated European reporting and financial market monitoring on the horizon?

Targeting the upcoming transaction reporting according to article 26 of the MiFIR directive, the conference “Data Management and Regulatory Reporting for Investment Firms” organised by Infoline took place on 7th July in Central London. It attracted a lot of attention, in particular since the perspective of an industry in a pre-Brexit environment – especially the question of how to implement an EU-driven regulatory regime – was of huge interest to all participants. So, what did we learn from the conference?

IDES testing with i:Reg: complexity simplified

The IRS (Internal Revenue Service) regularly offers the possibility to test the IDES portal which was newly developed for the electronic filing of account reports according to FATCA. The entire community, i.e. financial service providers, reporting authorities as well as service and software providers, is always invited to test the portal.

To verify the most recent enhancements of i:Reg, especially regarding the correction reports, SDS repeated their tests using the testing period from 16/6 to 30/6/2016 granted by IDES.

We focused on three subjects:

As previously, we tested how the IDES portal deals with large data volumes. Moreover, we submitted erroneous files to check the error behaviour and to gain experience on a wide range of error messages. Of course, the new functions related to amended void reporting were also carefully analysed.

GEOS T2S-compatibility

The migration of CSDs to the pan-European settlement platform TARGET2-Securities (T2S) has been an issue for discussion in the field of securities processing in the euro area. The plans for this common platform date back to the year 2006, with its introduction having been delayed several times. The first wave of the CSDs’ changeover to the new settlement platform, which was planned to take place in several migration waves, was completed successfully in mid-2015, the second wave was finalised on 28/03/2016.

The advantages for the T2S participants include – in addition to cost-efficient settlement – mainly the process optimisations in the area of auto-collateralisation, partial settlement and transaction linking. Moreover, T2S provides an improved service for the participant’s customers and access to other participant markets.

Usability and user experience

Usability

Nowadays, we need to offer more than mere functionality to attract our customer’s attention. Positive user experience is increasingly becoming the key driver of success. But good user experience does not come out of nowhere – it is the result of a thorough analysis of the user, a comprehensive understanding of the customer’s business as well as a mature design process.

For this reason, SDS introduced a new position called “user experience and user interface professional” in mid-2015. In this position I am responsible for enhancing the usability of our products and ensuring that product development focuses on positive user experience. In this context, I want to present the first task I was assigned to – improving the usability of all search dialogs in i:Reg.

FATCA reporting with i:Reg: the current IDES test session

IRS building in Washington

At the turn of the year, from 21 December 2015 to 7 January 2016, IRS again provided the IDES portal for testing purposes.

For the current session we had the following objectives in mind:

The handling of very large data volumes within a consistent procedure starting with the upload of raw data into i:Reg to the creation of XML file, the response of the portal, the targeted testing of erroneous behaviour and the alert as well as the notification messages of the portal.

For the first part of the test, a record was created consisting of generated, synthetic raw data with hundred thousands of entries relevant for reporting. Such volumes are rare for FATCA since they are only found in the largest financial institutions in the world, nevertheless i:Reg is able to process them without any problems. This may seem too theoretical for many use cases, but with CRS reporting many institutions will have to process similar volumes of data since a large number of accounts is concerned.