Swaps Reporting Hindered by Data Quality

Terry Flanagan

Five years after the G20 summit in Pittsburgh, the call for over-the-counter (OTC) market transparency has resulted in the creation of swaps data that some say is unreliable and of little value in its current form due to issues surrounding data quality.

“The CFTC has found a lot of inconsistencies in the data being reported, and it has been already one year since that reporting has started,” said Kimon Mikroulis, associate at Sapient Global Markets. “They have been unable to do meaningful, valuable analysis on the data. The way that the data is constructed and reported for market participants is so fragmented that they cannot use it for the intended purposes.”

Efforts are underway globally by regulators to increase the quality of the data that is currently being collected in multiple jurisdictions, both in the United States for Dodd-Frank reporting by the CFTC in cooperation with Department of the Treasury Office of Financial Research, and in the European Union through the February 12 start of the reporting via ESMA.

On January 21, 2014, the CFTC created an interdivisional working group (IDWG) to review the quality of swaps data reporting. Major areas of concern were the lack of data field standardization and inconsistency of reporting among market participants.

At the same time, the low quality of swaps data has come under the scrutiny of the Financial Stability Board (FSB). The FSB is trying to articulate the characteristics of a high-quality data management system.

“While there is a lot of benefit to standardization and attempts to try to clean up the data, there’s a lot of very small quick wins that could be achieved that will help push a lot of this data quality forward quicker,” said Cian O’Braonain, co-lead of Sapient Global Markets’ regulatory reporting practice.

Many institutions are examining their trade workflows to ensure that the right information is passed from upstream to downstream systems into a database for uploading to a repository. “A lot of people just didn’t really know the specifics of how to map what are essentially unique products to their organization into generic templates,” said O’Braonain.

Taking interest rate swaps as an example, within every single jurisdiction, banks have a different flavor of interest rate swap that they sell. They don’t all look the same and they’re not all booked in the same system. In essence, they’re treated very differently throughout the organization.

“When you ask that organization to map this into a template that is ISDA-defined and that the DTCC have honed through FpML, that in itself is quite a difficult exercise because they have 20 different varieties of interest rate swaps, and how are they going to report them specifically on a single template?” O’Braonain said.

Featured image via yblaz/Dollar Stock Photo

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