A New Approach: Assessing Data Management Practices and Current Demand for a Reference Data Utility

Solving issues relating to data quality and timeliness should be the top priority for an industry-led reference data utility, according to nearly half of the respondents to a recent WatersTechnology survey sponsored by SmartStream Technologies.


Reference data utilities act as a hub where relevant information can be collected, normalized, cleansed, enriched, and integrated before being fed to organizations across the industry. These entities provide a faster, more flexible and cost-effective way for financial firms to access the data needed to operate effectively. The mutualisation aspect of a utility also raises the bar in terms of excellence—by contributing data, users increase the quality of the information disseminated by the utility, while also benefiting from the contributions made by every other user. As a result, the cost of collecting and maintaining reference data decreases, while quality increases. In this way, a data utility offers organizations a way to both reduce operational costs and mitigate the risks associated with data governance and legacy integration.


This whitepaper explores the need for reference data utilities in today’s financial markets, as well as the services market participants expect or need from these entities. It is based on an exclusive survey conducted in August 2015 by WatersTechnology and sponsored by SmartStream that polled reference data operations professionals about the ideal utility. The survey explored issues such as how organizations choose a reference data utility and gauged reactions to the prospect of using an industry-led reference data utility, among other issues.