Out of office: banks debate merits of shared processing

Back-office functions are replicated across the Street, consuming resources without creating much of an edge. Some argue an industry-run utility could take these tasks on; others see them being shipped out piecemeal. Either way, outsourcing is a growing part of the fixed-income survival strategy. By Joe Rennison

Dan Fields, SG CIB

Every now and again, in conversations that are never reported, and are lost to posterity, banks talk to each other about an idea that could save the industry vast sums of money. It has advocates in every institution, right up to the level of investment bank chief executives, but the talk has not gone any further.

The idea is an industry-owned utility that would take on the back-office jobs each bank currently performs individually – from trade capture and matching to cash settlement. The banks

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