As the landscape of communication continues to evolve in our increasingly digital world, the financial services industry is feeling the pinch of regulatory scrutiny. In recent years, financial firms have faced nearly $2 billion in penalties from the SEC and CFTC due to unregulated “off-channel” messaging. This surge in “off-channel” communication, including usage of platforms such as WhatsApp, WeChat, SMS, LINE, and mobile calls, is largely fueled by the rise of hybrid work. Yet, regulators maintain that all business communications must be monitored, auditable, and occur only within official channels. In the words of SEC Chair Gary Gensler, “As technology changes, it’s even more important that registrants appropriately conduct their communications about business matters within only official channels. And they must maintain and preserve those communications.”
An Open Approach to Desktop Interoperability with FDC3
In the spirit of fostering open standards and interoperability to empower our community, I am pleased to share that we will support the FDC3 standard, and plan to extend its open source interface in order to offer more versatile integrations between desktop applications and Symphony. The richer FDC3 API will offer an array of options for streamlining and enhancing new and existing collaboration workflows for professionals in the financial industry.
This announcement coincides with a reiteration of our support of open source, FINOS and its mission, the organization committed to defining and developing open source standards for the financial services industry. I am honored to have been named to its board and we look forward to participating in more open source projects in the coming years.
A bit of background: FDC3 (which stands for Financial Desktop Connectivity and Collaboration Consortium) is an open standard for desktop integration in the financial industry. FDC3 implementations offer a relatively easy way for financial companies, where desktop real estate is a challenge, to achieve a much more integrated workflow on the desktop across new and legacy applications. FDC3 implementations can lower development costs for certain types of integrations and reduce time to market. Currently the FDC3 standard offers a somewhat limited interface or definitions of intents and contexts for integrating applications with chat and collaboration platforms. We have engaged with the FDC3 community and FINOS to define a richer interface based on real use cases and customer requirements, and we intend to expand the standard to a broader usage beyond the desktop applications.
Security and Compliance
Security and compliance have been at the core of the Symphony platform since its inception, setting the highest security standards for the financial industry. Symphony’s end-to-end encryption model has been the driving force behind the company’s extensibility and integration strategy with customers having full control over when and how their data flows in and out of Symphony.
In line with our existing extensibility and integration strategy, Symphony will continue to uphold our principles for security and compliance as we work to support an extended and improved FDC3 compliant interface for desktop integrations. We will work with FDC3 providers to offer additional controls to our customers to configure and fine tune the level of integration and context sharing between applications in accordance with security and compliance requirements.
We envision Symphony as the connective tissue between systems and desktop applications for data driven collaboration between internal and external parties. To achieve our vision Symphony will continue to offer different integration and platform extensibility options to make delivery of new and innovative solutions easier and faster. Specifically we will:
- Further develop our client and bot extension capabilities by exposing new APIs and simplifying third party extensions development and deployment. For example, the new 2.0 version of the bot development toolkit ( BDK ) automatically generates code to address lower level technical aspects so that developers can concentrate on coding business logic. Similarly, our Elements UI framework offers a much easier and quicker way to build interactive UI components without the deployment challenges associated with deploying extension applications. More improvements to our core extensibility framework are in the works and will be announced in due course.
- Work closely with the FDC3 community to define and implement FDC3 compliant interfaces on the desktop. The approach will empower the end user with the ability to easily pass data driven context in and out of the Symphony desktop application for a more efficient and intelligent collaboration workflow. For example, a buy side trader could extract trade related information from a chat room with a dealer with a single click and push it as a structured message to her OMS application so that she doesn’t have to retype it. Conversely, an operations professional could initiate a conversation about a trade break with all relevant counterparts with a single click from her trade reconciliation system so that she doesn’t have to create a room, add participants, and retype the economics of the trade.
With heavy contribution from our clients and partners, we are in the process of finalizing a list of most impactful desktop integration use cases. The use cases range from being able to create a room, stage or send a message in Symphony from a trusted application to more complex scenarios where a user might be able to extract a context (i.e. post trade details ) in a structured format from a Symphony chat message with a single click and send it to another application for further processing. Also as we work to integrate Cloud9 and StreetLinx with the Symphony platform, we will identify features offered by these products that we can potentially expose via an FDC3 interface.
We continue to improve and expand the way our customers and partners can build and deploy platform extensions and integrations. By offering both server side and desktop APIs, we look to empower our clients and partners with the right set of tools to continue adding value and optimizations to the collaboration process. In the future, we will provide more specific details about our plan to enable the Symphony desktop client for desktop interoperability with FDC3. If you would like to discuss extensibility and/or integration strategy, I’d welcome the discussion.
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