ISITC Strategic Review 2015 – Letter from Nigel Solkhon, Interim CEO

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ISITC Strategic Review 2015 – Letter from Nigel Solkhon, Interim CEO

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Firstly, I would like to thank the IELG for giving me the opportunity to lead ISITC Europe on an interim basis. It is an exciting challenge to help review the current state of the organisation as well as lead the important task of helping make ISITC Europe more relevant and Member driven.

As way of an introduction to those who do not know me, I am currently EMEA Head of Execution 2 Custody (E2C) product at Citi in London. I have over 27 years Financial industry experience including solution roles at IBM, Compliance and Relationship Management roles at State Street, Marketing at S.W.I.F.T., Relationship management at Bank of New York and Solution role at the London Stock Exchange. Most relevant to this task is that I was a founding Member of ISITC Europe, past Global Board Member of ISITC and board Member of ISITC Europe and helped move the industry from ISO 7775 to ISO 15022 in the late 1990’s.

The IELG and I have already started a review of the current state of ISITC Europe and have agreed a proposed set of strategic initiatives for re-establishing ISITC Europe as a leading forum for operational and technological expertise.

Firstly, the IELG and I recognise that ISITC Europe membership has declined dramatically over the past 5 years. Some of this decline is symptomatic of the impact of the Banking crisis and the need to increase capital and reduce costs, resulting in a reduced appetite for investment in time and resources into industry initiatives.

It is also clear that ISITC Europe had become less relevant to the current industry agenda and has been too narrow in its own activity.

ISITC Europe has also become overlooked as an industry voice to be heard at the tables of key industry initiatives which also needs addressing.

The fact that the Global Markets impact strongly on ISITC Europe Members is a reminder to us all that the ISITC North America/ISITC Europe partnership is as critical today as it has always been, I will be pushing for a stronger link between the 2 organisations and encourage collaboration on common topics.

On a positive note, my IELG colleagues are experienced and certainly capable of moving ISITC Europe forward on a new and invigorated agenda. To this end, I have asked for a delay in the formal voting procedure for the IELG due in November 2015 to allow for a transition period into Q1 2016.

We all on the IELG accept the challenge to turn ISITC Europe into a valuable asset for the securities industry, but cannot accomplish this alone. Therefore we have the following initial actions that we would propose to the industry to generate interest and participation. We are very keen on establishing a dialogue with the industry and encourage you to contact us to help define this future state:

Strategic Agenda Action Items:

1. Blockchain – As we have heard from many of the industry observers, the potential impact of Blockchain technology is being viewed as the most exciting catalyst for change in the securities industry. Many firms, regulators and infrastructures are joining the technology arms race to test the relevance and endurance of such technology and architecture. The FinTech sector is exploding and current players are courting peers and clients in a wave of experiment and investment. ISITC Europe is ideally placed to become a contributor and educator to the operational and standards development needed to support any industry initiative. To this end, the IELG and I would welcome participation and leadership from the technology, operations and standards community to guide the industry on Blockchain initiatives.

2. Standards – ISITC Europe heritage is standards and best practice. The work that has been carried out on data over the recent years will still continue to be supported by ISITC Europe. However, the world is moving at a pace. We will see the need for legacy standards such as ISO 15022/20022 and Fix being required to interface with Blockchain. In addition there is also a need to revisit end to end best practice. I can certainly see a need to map a transaction from order in Fix to ISO to blockchain in the future. Who better to describe these processes and checks, than securities operations and technology firms who supply solutions working with bodies such as SWIFT and Fix.

3. Regulation – Regulation has been and continues to be the number one investment for all firms in Europe. ISITC Europe has a fine history of participation in industry consultation from regulators and monitoring bodies. ISITC Europe should always be on the list of contributors to regulatory canvassing and as such we appeal to compliance and regulatory staff at our membership to help fill any gaps in coverage to help the industry understand the relevance on the impact on operations and technology. I certainly see this a an extremely valuable part of the benefit of ISITC Europe.

4. Industry Engagement – ISITC has a rich history in cooperation with other industry fora. From MIFID, Fix, S.W.I.F.T. and The Investment Association to name a few, the sharing of views and issues always helps to define the best solution. Nearer to home we have a rich source of industry knowledge and participation in ISITC North America and of course ISITC Europe itself is a collection of past initiatives allowing expansion of core participation (i.e. IUG). In 2016 we will look to have a strong focus on collaborative working relationships with both internal and external industry groups and associations. Once again we appeal to the members to help identify any potential partners with a view to the IELG issuing invitations to share ideas and issues.

5. Meetings and Membership – One so the key obstacles to success for ISITC Europe is participation and membership growth. ISITC Europe will not be successful without an active and knowledgeable community. The IELG and I would like to see participation from all corners of the industry as we move into 2016. We will be reaching out to the new FinTech community, the Funds community (both long and leveraged) as well as the core group of Custodians, Outsourcers, Brokers and buy-side. We are interested in attracting retail and private banks as well as mass affluent/wealth providers. We would like to see technology, compliance, operations, management and consultancies. To this end, we will be using a series of regular face to face meetings, webcasts, conference calls and digital media to engage, enquire and educate our membership. These methods are to be packaged to encourage participation whilst not eating into your valuable working time. We are also very conscious that ISITC Europe is a not-for profit organisation. I am willing to discuss new membership pricing if commitment can be matched. I have always felt that if cost of membership is a barrier for participation I am willing to invest to gather more participation.

In summary, ISITC Europe is setting out its views on how to re-engage the valuable community it feels will benefit from mutual exchange of various and focused themes which will shape the future as it has in the past. We will need your input and of course commitment to participate. It is up to me and the IELG to make the initiative relevant and provide valuable. Our first request is for you to provide feedback on the above. We are looking for leaders of the themes, as well as participation and content. We plan to run a face to face meeting in February 2016, at which we intend to provide concrete plans for each of the elements of the strategic plan. I and the IELG are always available for discussions and below are the contact details of myself and the IELG, I would encourage you all to use them.

Kind regards
Nigel D Solkhon
Interim CEO ISITC Europe
Direct Dial: +44 (0)207 508 9215
Mobile : +44 (0)7920 855156
IELG members:

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1 comment Press Releases
1David Baxter
Nigel, firstly many congratulations on your appointment and very much appreciate you taking the reigns of an industry body that has become very much the opposite in recent years. Reestablishing & strengthening ties with ISITC US is a must, and you’re the man for the job.

With regard your specific points 1 and 2, I understand the need to look for something ‘fresh and happening’ and I dare say blockchain/bitcoin are front leaders in the beauty parade, but for me this really is focusing again on the big guys and how they will benefit rather than the wider market. This isn’t dissimilar to the ISO15022 versus ISO20022 story. As an industry we seem to be focused on trying to get the big guys to migrate. Surely we’d be better placed on targeting those market participants that have yet to embrace any kind of standard and get them onto structured format for the benefit of the whole community. The marketing exercise is perhaps bigger and more costly, but ultimately this would surely be of more benefit to the market as a whole.

Regarding point 3, regulation will, for the next few years, continue to dominate and I’d look to ISITC Europe to disseminate the information for the benefit of its audience.

Regarding point 4 and industry engagement I look to ISITC Europe as a community body to provide relevant information to market participants on an ongoing basis. To do that, there needs to be engagement with all members of our community. I’m expecting, with the wealth of experience you have, that the ISITC-Europe reach will be substantially extended.

And lastly, with regard point 5, please accept this comment as a positive response from T-Scape that we are willing participants to assist in any way we can as we move into 2016.