CTRM software house of the year: Ion Commodities

Energy Risk Awards 2020: Ion Commodities continues to enhance, develop and connect its wide range of CTRM and business software systems

Rich Grossi
Rich Grossi

Ion Group continued to expand its commodity trading and risk management (CTRM) software offering last year with the acquisition of Allegro Development in April 2019. The purchase, which surprised the market at the time, means the trading software firm now offers five core CTRM products – Allegro, Aspect, Openlink, RightAngle and TriplePoint – as well as a suite of systems designed to support business needs such as shipping, counterparty credit risk management and advanced commodity analytics.

“This broad portfolio allows Ion to service the complex trading and risk management needs of users across the commodity supply chain,” says Ion Corporates’ chief executive officer Rich Grossi. The Ion Commodities portfolio now contains applications aimed at every size of firm, from the largest global energy companies with enormous complexity and sophistication, to those still using spreadsheets.

The firm’s sales and product teams are trained across the different products in order to help users find the best fit for their business from the Ion Commodities portfolio, says Grossi. Additionally, the firm has been working to increase connectivity between systems so customers can use the Ion suite of products to address “the full spectrum of needs across their commodity business”, he says.

Ion also has a wide range of Treasury products, which can be used by firms to bring their Treasury and commodity needs together from a cash and risk management point of view, Grossi adds.

The addition of Allegro has expanded Ion Commodities’ power and utilities capabilities. The system provides insight into complex exposure profiles and offers advanced modelling and simulation tools to support hedging strategy planning.

The latest Allegro update added five-minute granularity for power and transmission trades to the quarter-hour, half-hour and hourly intervals already offered. The change was made to support the Asia-Pacific region ahead of new requirements in the Australian electricity market scheduled for July 1, 2021. Grossi believes this functionality will also be useful in North American and European markets in the future.

Last year also saw an update to Openlink in October to enhance deal processing and volume management, as well as hedging and real-time risk reporting capabilities, among other developments. More recently, Ion released TriplePoint 8.19 in April 2020 as part of ongoing efforts to enhance user experience and better support a cloud-based solution.

Migrating CTRM systems to the cloud is increasingly standard practice across the industry. Ion has 12 years’ experience of providing cloud capabilities via the Ion Cloud, which serves Ion products only. All five core CTRM products operate in the cloud, and Aspect – a multi-tenant software-as-a-service CTRM – was built specifically for this purpose.

This broad portfolio allows Ion to service the complex trading and risk management needs of users across the commodity supply chain
Rich Grossi, Ion Corporates

Mark Tirschwell, chief information officer of Ion Corporates, says cloud platforms allow organisations to pivot in response to market, business or industry changes. “As companies look to modernise their application landscape and increase agility, the Ion Cloud enables their Ion solution to rapidly and seamlessly adjust to landscape changes, increase scalability, and take advantage of integration options that often create costly downtime when hosted traditionally,” he says. “The Ion Cloud provides a modern infrastructure in the era of big data to store, organise and analyse large volumes of data in the most cost-effective and flexible way.”

Ion Cloud users see average savings upwards of 30% in total cost of ownership, according to Tirschwell. And, while this varies by organisation, he says it tends to come from a reduction in infrastructure costs and internal resources needed to run and manage the system.

German energy company Uniper currently uses eight different Ion solutions. It decided to migrate its core energy trading and risk management [ETRM] landscape to Ion Cloud in 2016. The move happened in stages starting in 2018, according to Uniper’s senior vice-president, sales and trading IT, Marco Scherer. He says every go-live provided lessons that made the next stage easier. “At the same time, operations have become better integrated in the wider Ion organisation, which was maybe the area of biggest progress with Ion over the past year, compared to 2018,” he continues. “This consistency makes our life much easier and allows us to bundle resources as well.”

Scherer would like to see further integration among Ion’s products to enable Uniper to consolidate business processes across its different markets. “Ion is very keen to drive that forward with us,” he adds.

Uniper’s new cloud solution will enable it to “develop and grow”, even in the difficult conditions seen in commodities markets in recent months, according to Scherer. “The cloud move with Ion has proven to be absolutely the right decision for Uniper,” he says. “[In addition to] speed, cost reduction, flexible environments [and] modernisation, we value the increase in stability. This is particularly important in these volatile times.”

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