What Is the Way Ahead for Derivatives Clearing and Prime Services?

The market for derivatives clearing and prime services has undergone significant structural change over the last few years. Firms now face a number of new challenges, some of which have the potential to throw the viability of entire business lines into doubt. Based on joint work with Promontory and Minium, let’s take a closer look at the main challenges these organizations face and outline initial steps they need to take to overcome them.

Navigating a New Compliance Landscape

Compliance requirements are accelerating. Financial regulators around the world are placing a greater onus on top management to set and take accountability for effective cybersecurity policies and programs.

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) now has authority to take action against organizations that fail to protect consumer information against cyberattacks, and the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) will take effect in May 2018. Authorities will have the power to impose significant fines on organizations for noncompliance, scalable to nearly $28 million or 4 percent of the organization’s global annual turnover per incident, whichever is greater. Beyond this, financial regulators around the world are starting to set explicit expectations regarding security and resilience.

Legacy Systems Lag Behind

Many organizations providing derivatives clearing and prime services are still reliant on legacy systems. But as business models adapt, legacy systems are struggling to keep up, especially when it comes to security. It will not be possible to keep making incremental improvements, so demands for greater security and efficiency will impact competitiveness in the near future.

Cybersecurity Threats Abound

Companies face a constant threat of data breaches that escalates each year, especially organizations in the financial industry. In fact, according to the “2017 Cost of Data Breach Study,” the per capita cost of a data breach is higher for financial institutions than most other industries. Organizations in the clearing and prime services sector must manage the immediate financial consequences of the incident as well as loss of reputation and business in the wake of a breach.

A Road Map for Derivatives Clearing and Prime Services Providers

What can providers of derivatives clearing and prime services do to help mitigate these risks? There is an opportunity for firms to take a quantum leap forward by investing in new technologies that are tailored to modern businesses and aligned with the current regulatory environment. They should start with the two steps outlined below.

Understand the Regulations and How to Meet Their Requirements

Organizations need to understand all the forthcoming regulations and, most importantly, their impact on existing systems and processes. This will help them identify gaps and isolate the systems that will struggle to handle new requirements.

It will also help security teams determine whether they need to take a completely fresh approach to delivering compliance, potentially drawing on the latest technology tools. Firms should not hesitate to proactively engage with third-party experts to fully understand the nitty-gritty of the latest regulations and how they can be addressed with maximum efficiency.

Invest in New Technologies

Firms providing derivatives clearing and prime services should invest in new technologies, such as virtualization, cloud and blockchain solutions, that are tailored to modern businesses. This will help these organizations protect core revenue streams from competition from financial technology organizations and develop new offerings to meet clients’ changing expectations. In addition, new cloud-based technology environments that leverage the latest cybersecurity tools, including artificial intelligence, provide a better chance to stay ahead of cybercriminals.

Enhancing Resilience to Regulatory Change

Clearing and prime brokerage businesses should explore the potential of new technologies to enhance their resilience to regulatory change. If required, they should engage with third-party experts help them get started on this journey.

IBM Security released a joint white paper with Promontory and Minium to help derivatives clearing and prime services providers address challenges related to compliance, legacy systems, security and more. You can access the paper here.

Read the complete white paper: The Way Ahead for Derivatives Clearing and Prime Services

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Tim Roberts

Vice President & Partner

Leader of IBM's global Centre of Competence for Security Strategy Risk & Compliance, IBM. Previously: Senior Partner and co-founder of global risk practice at McKinsey; COO of investment management firm with responsibility for operations, technology, finance, risk & compliance. Managing Director at Promontory until its acquisition by IBM in 2016.