SDS (Software Daten Service) is known as a leading provider of outstanding solutions in the area of financial market operations, regulatory reporting and compliance for the international financial services sector. With renowned European financial institutions in its customer portfolio and with almost more than 100 million transactions per year, SDS is one of the key players in the field of banking technology in Europe. The company’s portfolio encompasses sophisticated software products and services for all customer and market-related processes, ranging from global securities and derivatives processing to regulatory, tax-related and compliance automation as well as solution-based consulting.
For the last 20 years, the flagship product SDS GEOS has ranked among the leading solutions for financial market operations and covers the entire value-added chain within one single solution – from the securities order and the settlement to corporate actions processing for all securities classes. SDS GEOS’ service spectrum is complemented with software solutions for compliance with regulatory requirements such as MiFID II, CRS, FATCA, QI and MAD/MAR. The SDS product portfolio is continuously adapted to technical, functional and regulatory market requirements by more than 250 experts. Thereby, new application standards are set. The high flexibility that comes with SDS GEOS’ parameterisation and platform independence allows for a multitude of operating models for optimisation that are tailored to the respective customer situation.
Current SDS GEOS customers are, among others, the Austrian financial institutions UniCredit Bank Austria, the Raiffeisen banking group and BAWAG P.S.K., as well as the BCEE in Luxembourg and HSBC Transaction Services, the German market leader in the securities BPO business, which is active for European private banks and online brokers and acts as a regional sub-custodian for the HSBC group. Due to the cooperation with Commerzbank, which was announced at the beginning of 2018, the transaction volume of HSBC Transaction Services GmbH processed via SDS GEOS is doubled. Hence, SDS belongs to the major providers of standard software for the international financial industry in Europe.
The success story of SDS GEOS has been holding up for over 20 years now and constitutes an interesting example of how a highly complex software solution can be kept state of the art in a tight market.
For a financial institution, the implementation of a new securities processing system was and still is a risky and costly endeavour and therefore a long-term investment. Developed over 20 years ago, SDS GEOS was designed based on cutting-edge standards and with a functional and technical architecture oriented towards long-term maintainability. To this day, it has always been kept functionally and technically up to date. In the case of SDS GEOS, this has proven more than beneficial for the licensees, since most customers that have been with us from the very beginning are still highly satisfied SDS GEOS users.
The functional development was based on principles like an unrestricted multi-client institution capability, the support of numerous sourcing models as well as multi-country and multi-currency capability. Thus, the options that SDS GEOS offers its users go far beyond the optimisation of their own settlement processes. The division of labour within groups is, for example, facilitated through the centralisation of market and custodian access, and the supply of services like asset servicing is supported efficiently. It is not without reason that HSBC Transaction Services, with an excellent service portfolio based on SDS GEOS, has become the undisputed market leader in terms of cost and service quality in Germany. Of course, the functional complexity of SDS GEOS developed over the years contributes to this as well. Nowadays, there is hardly any transaction, fee model or corporate action that cannot be processed in an extensively automatic and clean manner via SDS GEOS.
Given the numerous functional and technical standards, it was already obvious during the designing process of SDS GEOS that these standards would be subject to regular changes, and for that case, according provisions have been made. Rules that are subject to fast and individual changes can largely be altered via parameterisation – immediately and without the vendor’s intervention. Examples for this are fee models, routes, custodians, approval rules or taxes. Standards that are subject to regular changes, such as the WM revision service for FI master data or SWIFT messages, have been maintained neatly and delivered on time for 20 years by SDS.
Aside from these foreseeable and thus predictable development steps, there are market changes that are significantly more time-consuming, involve higher risk and are a lot more challenging to implement. Since its commissioning, SDS GEOS has witnessed numerous fundamental changes, ranging from the euro conversion and the adaptation to the German and Swiss market through to the implementation of ISO 15022 and 20022, TARGET2-Securities. US QI, flat rate withholding tax and CYT new, as well as to the big market reforms MiFID und MiFID II.
20 years is a long time from a technological perspective as well, and the technical maintenance of a product as large as SDS GEOS forms the basis of keeping it up to date in terms of functionality. This task is anything but trivial, as there are numerous examples of software products of similar size that needed to be decommissioned due to outdated programming languages and system environments alone.
With SDS GEOS, SDS has proven that there are other ways. SDS products do not only operate on conventional IBM mainframe environments, but also on open operating platforms like LINUX/Oracle. This is not a small matter, because for a truly performant operation, these environments differ significantly in terms of programming. But the possibilities that thereby present themselves to the users are endless. In order to facilitate changeover, SDS is working on an architecture that allows for a partial migration of functions from mainframe to open system environments. At the same time, this results in a step-by-step revision of the front-end and the whole user experience.
Not only do new front-ends provide a better working experience for traditional users of SDS GEOS, but they also open up possibilities to new users. This way, monitoring tasks can be accomplished more efficiently, the application can be embedded into separate applications and even third parties, such as institutional customers, can directly access the application at minimal IT cost in order to give instructions, for example. This thought can obviously be developed further, right up to private investors, who could, for instance, authorise instructions via apps and take part in Annual General Meetings.
The integration and interaction with these latest possibilities is one of the driving forces for the further development of SDS GEOS. This year, one of our customers managed to offer a processing platform to a FinTech through a streamlined project. For SDS, this is only the first step towards ever more cost-effective and granular services that can be offered in the company’s portfolio. Additionally, a continuation of the ongoing technical and functional development of SDS GEOS into separately usable and implementable products is being planned. The first steps on this path have already been taken and will enable users to offer new services on the market in the foreseeable future.
Even 20 years after SDS GEOS’ first deployment, both the software and the company still remain youthful and agile. In the years to come, we will continue to systematically take the necessary steps to define the future of securities processing and its environment in accordance with the SDS customer promise.