Mitigating Risk, Improving Efficiency

ACATS: Increasing Opportunities to Decrease Risk

By Bill Kapogiannis, DTCC Executive Director, Equities Clearing Services | Jun 02, 2020

Turning User Feedback Into Improved Market Insights
Bill Kapogiannis, DTCC Executive Director, Equities Clearing Services

As part of the Equities Clearing team at DTCC for more than 20 years, I’ve seen firsthand how innovation and incremental enhancements have enabled our clients – and the financial markets overall – to become more efficient, reduce costs and mitigate risk.

Just last year, there were over 100 million equity trades cleared, resulting in more than $1.1 billion per day on average. In order to facilitate all those trades, DTCC has continued to work with clients and looked at the overall landscape of the industry, determining steps to improve services.

In February, DTCC announced that it had implemented several new enhancements to the Automated Customer Account Transfer Service (ACATS), introduced in 1985 as one of NSCC’s key central processing systems.

ACATS automates and standardizes procedures for the transfer of assets in a customer account from one brokerage firm and/or bank to another, and facilitates the transfer of many different types of assets, including equities, corporate and municipal bonds, unit investment trusts, mutual funds, options, annuities, and cash. As part of this round of enhancements, the following new features were implemented to provide users additional opportunities to process transfers intraday, with the intent of creating a shorter transfer timeframe:


  • increased the number of daily ACATS cycles from five to 11,
  • introduced new cutoff times for transfer activities, and
  • created an earlier cycle to the ACATS Fund/SERV interface.

As a result of these changes, over 70% of full account transfers are now settling in four days, as opposed to the 60% that were settled prior to the enhancements.

Innovating the Future

Moving forward requires collaboration and commitment from the entire industry. Over the years, DTCC and SIFMA’s Customer Account Transfer Division have worked closely together to improve the client experience in transferring customer accounts.

On our business side, Craig Gurien, DTCC Director and ACATS Product Manager, has tirelessly driven a lot of that work, and facilitated many of the working group meetings and conversations to coalesce the industry around change.

While NSCC remains committed to a “Reimagined ACATS,” a more holistic approach of DTCC modernization and prioritization would sequence ACATS behind other core processing like settlement and clearing.

At this point, there are no plans to move to a real-time environment. We believe it’s prudent to allow the required changes within the settlement space to occur before we rush into a real-time system.

One area of modernization that we’re all proud of is the use of APIs, which has streamlined the system from legacy technology to a Cloud-based API. This technology change eliminates the constraints which limit firms to batch processing.

We began working with a large client on leveraging our APIs to make it easier to access DTCC data, allowing them to make sound business decisions. Giving clients different levels of flexibility allows them to leads to a better and more informed client experience. We are excited about the opportunity to work with more ACATS users to find ways to expand the API marketplace.

 

 

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