Xenomorph was one of the sponsors on the “Integrated Data Management” webcast last week, hosted by Inside Reference Data (audio recording available here). There were a number of interesting questions that arose from the Webinar.
One fundamental although somewhat academic question was “What is Integrated Data Management?”. Certainly everyone seemed convinced that there would be less “Enterprise Data Management” (EDM) projects in future, given the expense, scope and scale of such projects. The concensus was that whilst the need for data management was better under stood across all financial institutions, data management projects would be bitten off in more manageable chunks by asset type, business function or division (so are silos back in fashion I ask myself?!). Coming back to the original question, I guess my slant on Integrated Data Management is that we are seeing more and more data management projects that have an integrated reference data and market data elements to them, primarily driven by the need to sort out data quality/completeness/depth for use within risk management (in light of the financial crisis).
Related to risk management, a topic I pushed was that given the origins of data management for STP/back office, and given the interest in low latency tick data management/analyis in the front office, there seems to be a market gap (particularly in the US?) on how to manage data such as IR/credit curves, volatility surfaces and other derived data sets. These data sets seem to fall into the gap between what is thought of as market data (primarily just prices) and what is reference data (IDs and terms & conditions). This is another area where a more integrated approach to data management would be beneficial, particularly in making all these datasets available for risk management.
Coming back to a “hobby-horse” of mine, then I also raised the issue that whilst it is fine to be doing great data management (high quality, complete datasets etc) what is the point if all of your data is ignored by the front office and Excel is used to download the data traders and risk managers need from Open Bloomberg. I think the management of unstructured data (spreadsheets, word docs etc) needs to be elevated as an issue since this (unfortunately?) is where most data resides currently, despite what we data management professionals like to think.
I also think that the principles of good data management (centralisation, quality and transparency) could apply to other things and not just raw “data”, but what about centralised pricing and valuation, centralised curves and centralised scenarios for risk? Again what is the point of doing good data management if the ultimate “information” (e.g. a valuation) is done using poor quality data, with a complete lack of transparency over the data and model used.
A good question was asked about models, which was that given pricing models and their weaknesses have formed some part of the recent crisis, do we need more complex models. On having a few conversations about this and thought about it some more, then some would say it is complexity that got us into the crisis so this is the last thing we need. My view is that we do not necessarily need more complex pricing models and valuation techniques, but we certainly need more robust ones which does not necessarily imply more complexity. Coming back to a point raised by David Rowe previously, then I think all quants and risk managers should think about a “second means of valuation” for all the theoretical models they use, and that hedgeability (see recent post on pricing model validation) seems to be the common theme in producing more robust pricing models.