What is interoperability?

Today’s tech initiatives in capital markets almost always include references to automated workflows and interoperability, desktop agents and FDC3. But as ubiquitous as the term (and putting it into practice) has become, it has largely been sell-sides embarking on interoperability projects. We’re beginning to see the tides turn.

According to this Flextrade article, some buy-side traders navigate eight-ten screens throughout the day and log-in to twenty-seven different applications. The goal of interoperability is to synchronize all the applications on your desktop—no matter what type (legacy, native, in-house, or third party)

“Interoperability is now becoming not just nice to have, but a must have. ”

—Mike King, Global Business Head for Bloomberg App Portal
(Source: A-Team Insights)

Through the use of integrations facilitated by a smart desktop platform, automated workflows are built between these applications. This buy-side software integration leads to a new streamlined user experience, eliminating the burden of application switching.

Ask yourself: if you could automate the rote tasks your traders or portfolio managers engage with, what value would this bring your firm? That question (and the answer) is at the heart of interoperability.


Bloomberg Terminal connected to other applications by Finsemble

The sell-side use case for Finsemble is clear. Buy-sides are now starting to join the game.

Generate alpha through custom workflows

Buy-side workflows vary greatly from firm to firm, wIth layers of technology—at times proprietary—that do not connect. Disparate reporting systems and metrics, chat, internal risk tools, and a high dependency on virtual applications create complications.

Additionally, multitudes of systems such as OMS, PMS (and sometimes multiple EMS platforms) all launch separately and do not sync, with limited app-app communication. Errors from rekeying and copy-paste are particularly devastating due to increased regulatory scrutiny and volatility.

Portfolio managers and traders are working on behalf of clients who in turn have their own systems, along with interactions with multiple sell-side firms daily. The majority of applications and software solutions used by the buy-side are off-the-shelf vendor applications that (historically) don’t speak to each other.

Charles River Development, a State Street Company, announced a collaboration with Cosaic leveraging their Finsemble platform to streamline integration of third-party applications into the Charles River Investment Management Solution. Read press release here.

Next level collaboration: Buy-side vendors and FDC3

FDC3 standards define a common language and API that applications can use to easily communicate with each other. By using this common language, FDC3-enabled applications become part of the streamlined workflows at the heart of interoperability.

Slowly but surely, application providers are getting involved in interoperability. Understanding that connectivity is imperative to buy-side workflows, they want to be key players. More and more vendors are prioritizing FDC3 to make this happen.

The industry’s first no-code smart desktop: launch in under an hour

Desktop interoperability has historically required a large investment in IT resources to build and deploy. Finsemble has changed the game by offering the industry’s first no-code smart desktop platform. Learn more about the no-code Smart Desktop Designer.

Meeting FDC3 compliance means these buy-side vendor applications arrive primed and ready for interoperability out-of-the-box (note: FDC3-compliant applications can interoperate immediately once installed on a desktop equipped with an FDC3 Desktop Agent, such as Finsemble).

Some examples include Charles River, State Street, and Broadbridge. Refinitiv, FactSet and Eze are all in various stages of adoption, while Bloomberg allows interoperability using Terminal Connect. Additionally, a collaboration between Finsemble and Symphony is solving for the use case of firm-firm and person-to-person communication.

FDC3 Workbench window

FDC3 logo
The more vendors that come equipped with FDC3, the better it is for buy-sides. Our FDC3 Workbench makes it easy for vendors to adopt and test against FDC3 standards. If you’re a buy-side looking for interoperability, encouraging your vendor application providers to become FDC3 compliant is in your best interest. Our partner Aiera used the FDC3 Workbench to enable their application (in under an hour!).

Learn more about our FDC3 for vendors program

Real world use case: Pictet Asset Management

Pictet Asset Management (an independently owned asset management company with assets under management of over 200 billion) created customized workflows by using the Finsemble smart desktop platform to enable vendor and in-house application interoperability.

In 2021 Pictet Asset Management and Finsemble won the award for Best Implementation at a Buy-Side Firm.

Pictet AM has created some standard workflows in trading, like FIX and communication between applications that have been fine-tuned and automated. But when it came to cross-application workflows things got more complicated. Trying to share information from different types of applications—in-house, third-party, native etc.— was the challenge.

The results were astounding. In some cases up to ten minutes a trade has been saved.

See Pictet's case study and workflows

“The collaboration with Cosaic underscores our commitment to expanding Charles River’s partner ecosystem, providing customers with access to a growing community of third party analytics, data and applications providers.”

—Michael Beattie, Director of Product Strategy at Charles River
(Source: Press Release)

Time for bigger and better things

Automating rote tasks allows your analysts, dealers or portfolio managers to “do bigger and better things.” If workers don’t have to spend their time manually typing everything, they can study the market, talk to their portfolio manager, research, be creative—any of the things they wish they had time for at the end of the day.

Ask yourself, what are the slowest, most rote tasks your workers engage in? What would they be able to focus on if they could automate those tasks? What can they do with an extra ten minutes each hour, or eighty minutes a day?

It’s your traders, your tools, and your workflows. An interoperability buy-side platform like Finsemble allows you to build-out a personalized chain of events leading up to each action. It’s an important refrain we share: Build workflows, not applications. We are here to help you identify what those workflows might be.

Partnerships to bolster buy-side interoperability

Citrix Support

Support for virtual applications is especially relevant to the buy-side, who depend on them for critical pieces of their workflow, such as their OMS, EMS and PMS. These applications are often delivered by vendors via Citrix. Finsemble now supports Citrix-hosted apps.

“Across the buy-side we are seeing interoperability evolve from a nice-to-have to imperative,” says Dan Schleifer, CEO and co-founder of Cosaic. “When buy-side desks see their trading pain points solved by workflow automation, they need all their applications included, whether run locally or delivered via Citrix.”

Reformis Partnership

We have forged a strategic partnership with buy-side technology consultants Reformis to help bring desktop interoperability to investment management firms by leveraging Finsemble. Under the new partnership, Reformis will assist buy-side firms with the implementation of desktop interoperability, using Finsemble as the underlying infrastructure. Reformis specializes in projects across enterprise data management and the implementation of portfolio and order management system (PMS and OMS) solutions at investment management firms.

Next steps for buy-side interoperability

Interoperability is moving from nice-to-have to imperative for buy-side firms. Alpha is generated at every step in the investment process. Technology has facilitated many gains, and interoperability is the next leap forward.

As we meet with more and more buy-side clients, we are learning more about the unique and customized ways workflow automation will work for them, from expediting the RFQ process to automating the FX Swap process.

In this whitepaper, we discuss why interoperability is starting to take off for buy-sides, why the project is well worth the investment, and what we predict the future holds for buy-side interoperability. We’ll also showcase a few real-world workflow examples, so you can start to envision this new era of portfolio manager, compliance professional, and trader workflow.

Download buy-side whitepaper