By Chris Kentouris

The Enterprise Data Management Council has launched a semantics repository designed to provide a common data model and dictionary to describe the content stored in financial firms’ securities master files.

The Enterprise Data Management Council, a not-for-profit organization focused on moving the industry to enterprisewide data governance, says it will manage the Web-based repository as an open resource while the conceptual model and attribute definitions are validated by firms. The repository, announced Jan. 28, will cover reference data, analytical information, real-time and end-of-day pricing and corporate actions.

Once the validation phase is complete, the repository will be used as a data dictionary for internal mapping within financial institutions, a standard language for data vendors and a set of tags to mark up data at its point of origination, according to Enterprise Data Management Council managing director Michael Atkin. The service was designed by Hypercube, a London-based consultancy specializing in data semantics and modeling.

"Data precision drives every trade, client interaction and business process, yet we still grapple with common terms that have different meanings, common meanings that use different terms and vague definitions that don’t capture critical differences," said Atkin. "This is out of place in our interdependent industry and results in excessive mapping and unnecessary manual reconciliation."

Michael Bennett, founder and director of Hypercube, said that one of the key goals of the repository is to add business meanings to the definitions used in the International Organization for Standardization’s (ISO) 20022 message types. Swift, the registration authority for the ISO 15022 and ISO 20022 standards, helped Bennett design the repository, as did members of the EDM Council.

"The message types represent the final technical format, whereas the semantics repository represents a layer above that which was missing," explained Bennett, a member of the ISO working group for financial securities data modeling. "There was no comprehensive explanation of the reference terms which could be used by non-technical members of the financial industry." According to Bennett, the repository will address reference data before moving on to analytical information, pricing and corporate actions. The initial phase is expected to be completed by April.

"The development of metadata-based standards reflects the ongoing growth of awareness of data as a business asset, as well as a source of potential operational and financial risk," noted Vijay Oddiraju, CEO of Volante Technologies, a New York-based provider of data integration systems. He added, however, that if metadata-based standards are universally adopted, there will be a transition period as they are aligned with applications, databases and commercial feeds. "Integration will continue to be a challenge and metadata-based integration may serve to expedite standards adoption by supporting data governance and enabling model-driven developments that allow firms to transition to new levels of data consistency and quality control," said Oddiraju.

Atkin said he hopes the semantics repository will be used not only by financial institutions, but also issuers. "Many of the data attributes used by the financial industry start off as part of a legal document and are very precise," he said. "If the attributes in these documents were tagged when they were created, we would reduce the need for data transformation and improve accuracy and transparency."

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