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.”
CEDAR Bot: A Symphony Hackathon Winner
CapitalMarkets Online – competing under the name Team CEDAR – won the Most Impactful Business Automation award in Symphony’s recently held London hackathon. The team competed with the CEDAR bot, which stands for Cross Entity Document Approval and Review. CEDAR is a solution that allows for cross company review and approval of documents and tracking of changes.
According to Giso Van Loon, the founder of CapitalMarkets Online, the CEDAR bot was created because in the capital markets space, legal documents are negotiated separately for each new transaction, making the workflow unnecessarily long and inefficient. Examples can be a bond or equity prospects, Debt Issuance Programmes or ISDA Master Agreements. Often many parties are involved – for example, a Medium Term Note Programme may have 20 dealers, who all have to review and approve the documentation.
The review and approval of documents is usually done over email, which is inefficient. Someone has to trail through emails to find the latest draft, or to find out who has approved which version. However, most of the parties involved are typically on the sell side, and are licensed users of Symphony.
In this context, Team CEDAR, consisting of Giso Van Loon and his team member Paul McWilliam, found a gap and created a solution that could leverage Symphony’s secure platform, with all the audit trails that lawyers and compliance officers require.
When asked about their participation, Van Loon said “We very much enjoyed participating in the Hackathon. In our many years in capital markets, we found the cross company document review process one of the most inefficient. Our CEDAR bot and Extension App makes it possible to manage this workflow more securely and efficiently in Symphony. The brand new BDK 2.0 made it much quicker to create, and we look forward to using it again to build many more products on Symphony for global capital markets.”
CapitalMarkets Online was founded in 2018 to provide innovative technological solutions to capital markets, in particular primary markets. It launched its first product, the New Issue Tracker, in 2019, and now specializes in developing bots and apps for Symphony.
Giso Van Loon was the first person globally to receive the BDK 2.0 Certification. Since its inception, Van Loon said that they “have continued development of the CEDAR bot, in particular to get more functionality for clients without access to Symphony. Once the Outlook integration modules are ready, then these can be used as well.” CapitalMarkets Online has also built a prototype of New Issue Tracker as a bot. “With our years of experience in the markets, we are full of ideas,” Van Loon concluded.
With Symphony’s compliance procedures, CEDAR is on its way to being used by multiple firms who are already on the Symphony platform.
As winners of a Symphony Hackathon, Team CEDAR will compete in Symphony’s Hackathon Olympics in 2021. Congratulations Team CEDAR on your fantastic performance, we can’t wait to see what you build in the future!
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