Conference Notes

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  • What *is* automation?
  • What problem are you trying to solve? Is automation necessarily the best answer? Are you really just after better ORGANISATION?
    • Cost
    • Speed
    • Scale
    • Business Process
    • Consistency
    • Quality
    • Reporting
  • What other enterprise technologies do you use: whether you’re ready for automation will depend on what you already have:
    • Information retrieval/Search
    • Collaboration/social
    • Process Management/Audit/Controls


  • What should you automate? Suitability Criteria to consider
    • Expected Volume
    • Time taken to prepare manually
    • Degree of Standardisation
    • Susceptibility to change
    • Degree of Negotiation
    • Substantive complexity
    • Formal Complexity
    • Length
  • Optimisation: How much influence do you have over Suitability Criteria? Can you optimise the success of automating? Where you can, you should.


  • Institutional Attitude: How much autonomy does your institution let users have? Answer: likely, not very much
    • Information Security (confidentiality): how comfortable are you with “the cloud” and the “crowd”? (likely answer: not very)
    • Information Technology: (system robustness): how much tolerance for “breakdown”?
    • Governance: what restrictions in terms of architectural integrity, procurement, consistency, quality:
    • Politics:
      • Systems: simply put, IT departments want to maintain control of gizmos.
      • Content:
  • Optimisation (as per above): are your documents ready for it?
  • Content Policy
    • These are the underlying rules your automation will need to cleave to.
    • If not agreed, very hard to successfully automate.
  • Negotiation Procedure
    • Who will use the automation system? How much will it be used?
    • Integration:

RESOURCING It isn’t just about buying software.

  • Tools
    • Which application? Will depend on your needs and your organisation
      • Inside/outside the firewall
      • User interface
      • Degree of integration with existing firm systems
      • A brief interlude: The End-to-End Principle insofar as it relates to your organisation
  • Personnel
    • Status: Employees versus contractors
      • Fancy telling permanent staff you hired as derivatives experts that the next six months will be spent programming a machine?
    • Attributes: Lawyers versus IT analysts versus Management Consultants: you need to bring to bear a good understanding of:
      • Content: the market and the content of the documents: what they mean and how the document works
      • Data Structure: optimising the text and data model for maximum simplicity and flexibility. This is HARD.
      • IT structure: it helps to have some idea or interest in how data is actually processed by machines (xml, html, etc)

IMPLEMENTATION Degree of automation: Depends on the type of document.

  • The more negotiated a document is, the less value there is in automating a final complete agreement
    • For an ISDA that will be negotiated, an 80% complete document which captures the non-controversial text will be almost as valuable that a fully complete document.
    • For a high-volume structured note, more important to have the whole thing automated.