deputy head of strategy, SunGard’s capital markets business

OPTIONS SYMBOLOGY INITIATIVE: ARE YOU ON TRACK?

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Author: Tony Scianna, executive vice president, SunGard’s brokerage & clearance business

Industry testing for the Options Symbology Initiative is scheduled to begin in just three months, and the deadline for full readiness is only eight months away. Are you ready?

Are you sure?

The initiative sounds straightforward – US listed options will transition from the current OPRA codes and fractional strike price values to a 21-character key. But it actually affects many more systems and relationships than originally assumed. In fact, many firms are only realizing now just how much time, effort and – yes – money is required to ensure full readiness.

The tangle of internal systems and teams, vendors and service providers has increased the workload and led to major adjustments to budgets, staff and timelines. Moreover, many plans only included the areas covered by industry testing. Yet much broader internal integration and regression testing is needed for full OSI readiness.

What best practices might help you prepare?

  1. Inventory and prioritize all of your systems – don’t restrict your focus to options systems. Many peripheral systems also need to be regression tested or tested for errors made in the process of remediating systems.
  2. Think about initiating separate program management oversight for OSI testing. The process is so complex that it may very well require it.
  3. Involve your vendors and other service providers in the testing process for proper coordination and better communication.
  4. Consider automated testing frameworks, which can help with unit and functional regression testing through to recreating your entire environment in a test environment – and then running business processes that match your own processes. Automation can speed the testing process and help reduce errors created by manual intervention.
  5. Look at whether you need outside help. Executing the OSI remediation program in-house can be difficult, since a focus on other business priorities and internal operations and technology issues can reduce the resources that can be dedicated to the OSI impact analysis and remediation effort. More and more firms are seeking SunGard’s help and expertise to assist their own subject matter experts.

If you’d like to know more about this issue or our services, please visit our OSI Website.

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