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This process ensures that the parties are in agreement about the essential trade details. A market where SDA is the standard is also referred to as a "trade-date environment".
There is no involvement of any further intermediary and communication is usually via telephone, fax or email. There is a strict sequence of steps; each party must wait for the other to complete its actions before proceeding. Only once all the steps in the trade verification process are completed will the settlement instructions be sent and the next stages of post-trade processing begin.
The verification process can be automated in full or in part. Under central matching models, the process is fully automated and centralized using a central matching utility, which is usually provided by third-party vendors. The trade verification process can range from fully manual procedures that follow a strict sequencing of steps to full automation where trade details are centrally matched and validated and the processes do not necessarily happen sequentially.
In this case, settlement instructions are sent on the basis of trade details that have not been affirmed and thus risk being incorrect. SDA is unlikely under manual processes because there will be time lags and delays to completion of trade verification beyond the trade date, especially for significant trade volumes and where there are resource constraints.
At the other end of the spectrum, central matching removes much of the sequentially in the trade verification process because the counterparties involved input the relevant data independently and separately. The information is then validated and matched centrally and to a large extent synchronously. When the details match, settlement instructions are automatically sent to custodians and settlement agents.
What is more, the counterparties receive updates on the status of trades processed through the system, with errors and the need to take corrective action being indicated if trades do not match. Automated trade verification using electronic systems to match the trade details either locally or centrally provides a means to achieve timely trade verification.
Automation assists timely completion of the process for the bulk of the trades that can be sent straight through for settlement, allowing resources to be focused on those trades where manual intervention is required to rectify any errors identified.
SDA leads to settlement efficiency: This translates into benefits in the form of a reduction in operational risk and trade failure rates for a given level of operating costs, and a reduction in operating costs for a given risk and failure rate. Reduced risk through better accuracy in the trade verification process — the adoption of automated SDA processes reduces the rate at which trade fails occur and mitigates the costs associated with these fails. Furthermore, compared to manual processing, automation will reduce the likelihood of new errors being introduced during the post-trade processes.
Fewer fails mean fewer costs downstream in record-keeping, reconciliations of settlement instructions, corporate actions, claims-handling and other functions required to resolve fails. In addition to the direct benefits of risk and cost reductions, automated SDA processes can generate indirect benefits.
These relate to better management of information, increased transparency, and improved monitoring of own positions and performance as well as counterparty performance. Furthermore, it provides a key step towards achieving full straight-through processing STP of trades from order to settlement, with additional risk and cost reduction implications. Transparency is improved because the information on trades arrives at one point of entry and is electronically stored, which means that it can be more readily accessed and tracked than communications by email, fax or telephone.
The electronic storage of relevant trade information, including the history of a trade such as any actions taken by the counterparties to rectify unmatched trades, is likely to improve transparency in the process by leaving an audit trail.
It also allows individual firms to track and measure their operational performance and trade processing efficiency such as average response times for allocations, confirmations and affirmations. Automation of this part of the process provides a bridge between the front and back office , and so can be considered as one of the necessary measures to move towards straight-through processing.
The risk reductions and cost efficiencies that can be realized by individual firm is likely to be more feasible with a market-wide move towards automation and SDA as best operational practice, because this will go further to shorten and harmonize the settlement process.
If some existing or potential clients do not adopt automation, the brokerage firm will still have to organize its operations in order to meet the requirements of its non-automated clients. The risk reductions and cost efficiencies that can be realized at individual or bilateral level would therefore be likely to deliver greater overall benefits if more, and ideally all, firms in a given market were to adopt automated processes based on standardized or interoperable systems.
The degree to which firms in a market use automated trade verification and achieve SDA has further implications in terms of the market-wide benefits that can be realized. In fact, some potential benefits can be extracted only if there is a market-wide move towards automated SDA at least within that market. In some instances, automation and the move towards SDA as best operational practice delivers most benefits if it is adopted not just by most firms within a country, but across the whole relevant economic region.
For example, harmonization of settlement practices between EU countries can arguably be achieved more easily in an environment where firms in individual countries have adopted more consistent and efficient verification processes. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.