OPINION: CAT NMS is Out of Options


CAT NMS has a problem: It has earned a reputation for missing deadlines that usually is reserved only for writers under contract.

In a recent online poll conducted by sibling publication Traders Magazine, twice the number of respondents (38%) believed that the Trump Administration would complete its border wall before CAT NMS finished the Consolidated Audit Trail, which is now slated for 2020.

The plan-sponsor switch reported, and later acknowledged by CAT NMS, at the end of January did not help quell many industry concerns for a project that was meant to start production in November 2017.

However, CAT NMS officials stated during a mid-month industry conference call that the move from Thesys CAT LLC to FINRA as plan processor would not affect the current timeline published by the SRO body.

Presenters acknowledged that it would take FINRA some time to get up to speed as the new plan processor, but the SRO would continue developing the CAT along its current roadmap and not use the situation as an opportunity to return to square one and develop a more OATS-like offering.

If they had, there would have been torches and pitchforks stretching from Midtown Manhattan down to Wall Street and back given the amount of time, energy, and resources every sell-side firm already allocated to the project.

It’s beyond crunch time for CAT NMS, and it has exhausted most of the Securities and Exchange Commission’s and the industry’s goodwill.

Once the regulator appointed Manisha Kimmel as senior policy advisor for regulatory reporting and who reports directly to Chairman Clayton, the concept of CAT NMS receiving additional formal or informal extensions ceased.

Come hell or high water, CAT NMS has to have the CAT’s first phase in production no later than April 2020, which means testing needs to start this year and final versions of the final versions of the technical specifications need to be available before that.

CAT NMS stated during its call that it would release version 1.1 of the specifications, which includes industry feedback from the specs it published in October, by the end of February. This would be followed by the next interim version with additional industry feedback on March 29 and the final version on April 29.

If it misses any of its looming deadlines, CAT NMS will find itself with more than just its tail caught in the wringer.

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