The over-the-counter (OTC) derivatives post-trade processing and market infrastructure landscape has changed considerably since the first executed interest rate swap in 1981. However, despite some advances, the swap trade confirmation process still requires significant human intervention, highlighting the need for automation—and more specifically, robotic process automation (RPA).
Industry advances have positively affected the timeliness of confirmation processing and mitigated operational risk. For one, short-form confirmations have mostly replaced long-form paper confirmation, reducing the number of fields firms need to exchange and match. For another, the development of industry solutions that leverage industry standard International Swaps and Derivatives Association (ISDA) documentation now facilitate the electronic exchange and matching of trade details.
Yet in spite of the above industry developments, the swap trade confirmation process relies on time-consuming human intervention mainly due to the following reasons:
- Customized confirmation templates that differ among counterparties
- Lifecycle event management that leads to additional complexities such as cash settlements, partial unwinds and trade novations
- Operational errors in trade capture especially for non-electronic and non-standardized trades
- Managing nuances of individual asset classes
- Increased regulatory reporting requirements such as MIFID II
Human intervention is not only operationally time consuming but also costly. It requires significant manpower to manage the trade confirmations on a day-to-day basis. Further, scaling trade volumes provides additional challenges in terms of controlling cost and resources.