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Roundtables & Panels

Technology Roundtable: Does asset management need full automation?

The problem with legacy systems, and the outlook for DLT's usage in the funds industry, were discussed in our recent technology roundtable.

technology, automation

Edward Glyn, head of global markets, Calastone
Kate Webber, head of product strategy, Northern Trust
Franck Bonte, global CIO, Société Generale Securities Services

FUNDS EUROPE: The heavy use of fax machines in the funds industry is often maligned, and we regularly hear calls for greater automation. Yet the fax is, to some extent, a tool for automation. Is there a perception problem with how people define automation and automated processes?

FRANCK BONTE, SGSS: The technology around the fax is improving. Before, it was all paper; now, it is, actually, in a sense, digital, connected through the portfolio management system and automatically received by the service provider. But we cannot say this is straight-through-processing (STP).

And nor can we say that automation and digitalisation are the same things. We will see a push towards full digitalisation of processes from the receiving part to the management of entries.

KATE WEBBER, Northern Trust: There has to be a distinction between STP and automation because they're not the same thing at all. We've seen in a post-pandemic world that fax numbers have dropped dramatically. The majority of non-Swift, non-Calastone type activity has moved - but it's moved to email, bizarrely.

As an industry, we've got more secure data files/APIs, and we end up with a different set of issues. So they haven't necessarily become automated, but they've moved on to email, and we've partially automated those.

EDWARD GLYN, Calastone: Often, people refer to fax automation as automation when it isn't automation. Remember, automation has to go through the entire supply chain from front to back, but then all the responses that have to come back from the receiving parties also need to be automated. So, automation is very much bidirectional, and I think there is an issue with both acknowledgement of what happens at one's own firm and the definition of what automation actually is because if there is a part of a process that isn't automated, then we can't call that process fully automated.