The shift to T+1 settlement next May in the US has got operations teams across the industry hard at work preparing. Not surprisingly a multitude of law firms, tech providers and others are running marketing campaigns around expertise and solutions. DTCC, including its consulting business, is in the lead on education and support.
It's testament to its importance that at least four sessions are dedicated to T+1 at Sibos and a couple at InvestOps. Yet, media interest has been somewhat sporadic so far – led by trade outlets like Global Custodian, Markets Media, and Waters Technology - as is often the case with long lead time and consensual infrastructure change.
Media attention will be a story of moments, not a steady, developing stream. Hence, planning ahead is going to be crucial for organizations who want to manage editorial media profile.
One of the most insightful reporters covering the story has been Shanny Basar at Markets Media, a leading outlet covering institutional trading. Cognito spoke to her around the media salience of T+1. She highlighted that:
“T+1 is a huge global issue that impacts more than the US…However, the media typically tends not to focus on issues around the plumbing of the financial system unless things go wrong or issues are highlighted by regulators or politicians.”
Basar foresees a quickening of the pace in coverage, and outlines two dates of interest worth planning for:
“The DTCC opens its test environment in August so it will be interesting to see the level of participation and any issues that arise. As a journalist, the next landmark is likely to be six months out from the implementation date.”
She went on to give other clues on what angles may be explored:
“The progress of testing will be interesting to cover. However, T+1 will also have a knock-on impact in areas outside equities trading such as corporate actions, securities lending etc. In addition, there will have to be changes in business models for asset managers as they may need to outsource or consolidate.”
In terms of what kind of sources or experts she’d find most useful, Basar thinks there’s mileage in the impact outside of the U.S.:
“Asia seems to be where the change will hit the hardest due to the time zone differences. I am not sure that the potential challenges for overseas firms are fully appreciated given that implementation is less than 12 months away.”
The long-tail story development will come from beyond US implementation, with Basar predicting a matching move by Europe that will keep media interest alive. Basar pointed to the EU’s attempts to harmonize settlement for decades, with T+1 potentially proving a catalyst.
Given all this, we see some takeaways for T+1 communications success:
- Follow the testing timeline and other sources of news like the ISSA working group. Make sure you’re monitoring news and ready to jump in with commentary.
- If you’re a financial institution, get internal clarity on what you want to achieve out of media engagement and the audiences you hope to influence – from staff, clients or regulators.
- If you’re a tech provider or consultant, accept that experts from Virginie O’Shea to Tony Gandy to AFME are tough competition for share of voice and differentiation is hard. Find your niche and road test messaging before conferences like Sibos, InvestOps, TSAM New York. Linking to a broader topic like retail investor participation may be good.
- T+1 is not written about every week. So even with great research and expertise, you need to build relationships with trade press, analysts, and influencers, so you’re a call they make when they write.
- Don’t believe anyone who can predict today when the WSJ or FT might write on this, or which reporter will be writing. While it’s important, unless something goes badly wrong, mainstream coverage will be a piece or two nearer start date. Only ongoing media engagement, including the trade press, will put you on the short list for whoever is filing those stories.
Andrew Marshall is the Managing Director in Cognito's New York office