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In July of this year, the Securities Industry Association (SIA) retreated from its mandate to move the settlement cycle from three days (T+3) to one day (T+1) by 2005. The basis for this decision was presumably a concern about the ability of financial institutions (FIs) to meet the mandate, given competing technology priorities and the lingering recession. With the T+1 mandate removed for now, financial institutions have been able to liberate previously dedicated technology resources to other business initiatives. Which areas will benefit from these "found" resources?

At Mercator, we see three business priorities that will shape technology spending in the next 18 months for the larger FIs, regardless of economic conditions. These areas are risk management, leveraging past investments in CRM technology, and operational efficiencies through straight-through processing (STP). Each project carries distinct benefits, but all involve improving visibility in the financial data supply chain through enterprise integration.

Increasing visibility in the data supply chain will allow financial institutions to mitigate their transactional risks, understand their customers better and improve their returns on technology investment. Simply stated, visibility gives FIs access to more data more quickly. Visibility also allows for easier consolidation of information for reporting purposes. In a post-Enron world, C-level executives will be required to know more than ever about the operations of their institutions.

Thus, financial institutions are finding themselves with the challenge of mining data from disparate, silo-based systems into meaningful reports. The good news is that the technology has evolved to the point where such integration challenges are easily addressable within reasonable time and investment thresholds. This document explores these business challenges and how FIs can implement solutions that meet their time-to-market and return-on-investment (ROI) goals.

Risk Management

From a risk perspective, the financial world is a different place than it was a year ago, for a number of reasons. In the aftermath of catastrophic business failures, such as Enron and WorldCom, we will continue to see increased scrutiny by regulators, such as the Securities and Exchange Commission, across a wider range of financial activities that affect corporate viability. Also, from a security perspective, we are at a higher physical risk from a systems failure resulting from terrorist activities.


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