GC Wrapped: Your year in securities services

A Happy New Year message from our editor, who explores Spotifysation as a concept for securities services.
By Jon Watkins

We often reference the Amazonisation and Uberisation of various industries – securities services included. Well, how about Spotifysation as a new concept? 

At the end of each year Spotify sends its users a list of the artists and songs they listened to the most over the preceding 12 months. It’s a great opportunity for those with a cool and undiscovered indie band at the top of the chart to show how alternative they are via social media, and for those who have listened exclusively to Justin Bieber in 2020 to seriously question their life decisions.

But if you think about it, what Spotify does is collect data over the year and hand it back to you in a usable, analytical and digestible format. No needless information about the times you forgot your password or your account details, just insight they know their users are interested in.

It’s a very simplistic example of what the securities services industry is aiming to do for all its clients to help with investment and operations decisions, with some difficulty. This is a theme that has come up again, again and again this year, and it’s unlikely to go away in 2021 as custodians grapple with this challenge.

Much like Spotify, securities services providers sit on a mountain of data that if wrapped up correctly can be invaluable to their clients. For investment decisions, for ESG analysis, and now increasingly for new mandates, data is king and for an industry at an inflection point with its business model, cracking this conundrum is crucial for the future.

Unsurprisingly, this has been a growing focus for custodians and fund administrators during 2020. Enhanced capabilities, FinTech partnerships, new platforms, employments of chief data officers, talk of lakes and warehouses, among others have dominated the past 12 months.

Providing tools for clients to access their own data, along with analytics on investment and risk trends, has been a key area of focus among custodians in a step to create a self-service model that mirrors the ease of use in the consumer and retail banking world.  

Being able to tap into this data that custodians hold will enable trading desks and portfolio managers to make valuable decisions around liquidity, cash management, risk management, and operations. 

In the spirit of Spotifysation we thought you’d also like you know which stories have been the most read on Global Custodian over this year…and would you believe it data has dominated! Specifically, BlackRock Aladdin stories – deals with Northern Trust, BNP Paribas and our ‘under the hood’ look at how the platform has become the investment operations language for custodians. Meanwhile, HSBC’s new Amazon-style data service, State Street’s Alpha progress and the story of custodians battling it out over front-to-back data offerings all graced the top 20.

As for the others in the top 10, we’ve put together a two-part feature on our homepage which takes an in-depth look at the biggest stories from the year. There’s some intriguing results in there, giving you an insight into what gets read the most on Global Custodian. For the first time in my tenure, a people move was the most-read news story of the year.

Our top stories earn tens of thousands of reads each year and for the first time, some of our multimedia offerings – podcasts, documentaries, webinars and videos – have been among our most popular, so we thank you for tuning into those, as well as being a loyal reader over the past 12 months. From all of the Global Custodian team we wish you all the best in the New Year. 

To read part one of our most-read stories from the year, click here.
To read part two of our most-read stories from the year, click here.