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DTCC’s ACATS Modernization Project Dominates Discussions at 2017 CAT SeminarThe Depository Trust & Clearing Corporation (DTCC) played host for the annual two-day Customer Account Transfer (CAT) Seminar, sponsored by the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association (SIFMA). The event, held at DTCC’s Tampa office, brought together 70 attendees, representing more than 25 broker/dealers, banks, mutual fund companies and service providers, to discuss current events in the transfer industry, including key updates on DTCC, CAT membership, best practices and regulatory changes.

But the dominant topic of discussion at the event centered on modernizing DTCC’s Automated Customer Account Transfer Service (ACATS) and the industry efforts to shorten the ACATS cycle.

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The financial industry is in the middle of a revolution with new technologies, albeit at various stages of maturity, creating a whole new toolbox from which to work. DTCC Product Management and Application Development (AD) led sessions on how DTCC is modernizing the ACATS application, which includes a move away from legacy Cobol/mainframe to the cloud. Gordie Sands, Co-lead, Office of Fintech Strategy, led a one-hour session during which he shared DTCC’s role in exploring fintech innovations, including blockchain and artificial intelligence, and how that technology relates to modernizing the ACATS system. Participants of this year’s CAT Seminar began to think about what this could potentially mean for the ACATS system in the future.

The effort to bring ACATS into the future is already underway, with a complete update to the underlying technology and industry requested enhancements targeted for completed by Q1 2019.

“The ACATS modernization project will have the immediate benefits of better security, faster processing and new features that will support the industry desire to further shorten the ACATS transfer cycle,” said Craig Gurien, DTCC Director and ACATS Product Manager. “It also sets the stage for a longer term goal that the industry has started to discuss such as a move towards real-time processing and the multitude of benefits that would come with it.”

Currently, the ACATS transfer process can take up to five days. The industry has begun discussion on what a desired end state in the future would look like. While a desired end state shared by most at the seminar is real-time processing and a transfer to occur in as little two days, the reality is there are barriers that need to be addressed to achieve this goal. DTCC, as mentioned in the seminar, will play a lead role in working with industry to work toward that goal.

Collaboration is Key

This year’s event also included interactive features like live, interactive polling, text feedback, panel discussions, and breakout sessions on important industry topics. By incorporating these more collaborative components every participant’s thoughts and opinions, which are extremely valuable given the breadth of collective knowledge shared by attendees, could be take into account. While DTCC is leading the effort to modernize ACATS, moving forward does require collaboration and commitment from the entire industry and this was achieved at the 2017 CAT Seminar.

Evan Oliveaux, Vice President in the Operations and Services Group for Fidelity Investments and the SIFMA CAT Section President spoke at the seminar and reflected on the event afterwards stating, “It’s important that we meet as a unified group to outline the strategy of where we want to be in the next three to five years as it impacts the decisions we have to make now. This year’s CAT Seminar proved to be productive in collaborating about the future and making strategic decisions today.”