Straight through processing (STP) is the end-to-end automation of the trading processes both within and between buy and sell side institutions. In short, it is a vehicle to real-time stock/ trade processing in Financial Service industry, with a seamless integration of components and processes involved in the trading cycle starting from first request to buy/sell interest ending up to trading settlement and reporting. STP starts from the first capture of an order through to final settlement. It involves the seamless, electronic transfer of information to all parties involved in the trading cycle utilizing standardized information flows, technologies, and infrastructures. STP provides wired links for investment managers and ability to process trade without manual intervention and exception, thereby eliminating chances for human errors. In short, T+1 is the simple term for the process of clearing and settling a trade one day after the trade date.
Key Elements in an STP Strategy:
1. STP is about T+1
A typical securities firm's back office is characterized by multiple applications at various stages of their useful lives and not necessarily 'talking' with each other. Therefore STP would come to mean:
• Streamlining operational infrastructure (internal STP)
• Readying for connectivity with trade participants and matching utilities (external STP).
2. STP is more than process automation
By definition STP envisages a seamless, automated and integrated transaction-processing environment. This cannot be achieved by just automating existing business processes. As is seen even in highly automated back offices, not all processes are at their most efficient due to duplication. Also existing automation, in most cases, will not maximize overall business process efficiency. So it is not possible to crash processing time further by increasing automation.
3. STP should go beyond information technology solutions
An obvious corollary to the proposition that STP goes beyond mere process automation is that STP is not just an IT issue. Implementation of STP is driven by business considerations such as reduction in processing costs, improvement in data integrity and usage for decision-making.
4. STP has many applications in addition to cost saving
The benefits of STP are generally considered to be:
• Reduction in costs, due to a reduction in process inefficiencies and release of manpower
• Reduction of risk, due to more efficient settlement and reconciliation as well as reduced exposure period when the settlement cycle is compressed
Both of these contribute to the bottom line of the company, and the general tendency is to measure the success of STP initiatives based on this. However the real measure of success is its impact on the competitive position of the industry participant. Cost is only one dimension of competitiveness. A well thought out STP strategy can aim to improve top line and margins. This could be in terms of:
• Improving service levels to customers
• Improving data or information usage efficiency
• Release of resources to more core functions
• Enhancing processing throughput.
The benefits of STP go beyond cost savings. It is a strategic imperative that enhances a firm's corporate performance and its competitiveness.
5. STP is useful for both trade and non-trade issues
STP is usually associated with the securities market trading cycle and this causes STP to be viewed only in the context of the trading process 'silo.'
However the concerns that STP seeks to address, such as inefficient processes and manual interventions, are equally prevalent in non-trade processes. For example, if an asset management firm improves its client record keeping process using STP, there are tangible business benefits both in terms of cost savings and improving service delivery.
6. STP should be constantly, continuously utilized
An STP initiative is not just a one time operational initiative. Instead, it has to constantly align with strategic and tactical needs of business. Central to the STP theme is the premise that STP objectives flow top down from business needs and eventually get translated to IT spending.
7. The current environment is never adverse to STP strategies
The advantage of embarking on an elaborate STP exercise is in having control and direction over the whole implementation and thus efficiently planning and deploying resources. The flip side is the large budget commitments to be made and difficulty in measuring ROI, given the scope, scale, interdependencies and long implementation period. In the current environment, it may be better to take an incremental approach by:
• Conducting firm-wide analysis for all core processes
• Phasing out affected processes in two or three buckets
• Selecting critical processes that will provide maximum business impact in phase one.
However, much hinges on careful and intelligent choice of target processes. Again it is necessary to have a pan-organizational view to take care of consistency and related dependencies.
A significant risk is that the sum of the individual (silo) savings or benefits will not equal the overall benefit, as there would still be bottlenecks in interfacing processes that have been excluded from scope. Some of the advantages of an incremental approach are:
• It can provide early and quick wins.
• With smaller outlays expected, it is easier to 'sell' internally to stakeholders while seeking funding
• It de-risks the implementation by phasing out changes
• It serves the interest of change management by gradually building organizational acceptance.
· 1 decade ago