Enabling Compliance - Excel Services saves financial services sector from data complexity

Reading, UK - 28 February 2007

Microsoft announces new Excel Services tools, already successfully implemented with three top banks

Microsoft and global IT services partner HCL have today announced the joint development and trials of a new range of solutions based on Excel Services. The tools are designed to alleviate the regulatory burden on financial institutions by ensuring greater control and clarity on data, informing risk reporting, derivatives processing, performance measurement and collateral management. The announcement follows a nine month combined research project between the two companies, and trials have already been successfully completed with three of the world’s most well-respected banks.

Excel Services, delivered through Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007 - which was launched in November last year- is the most important release of Excel to date. It has been developed in conjunction with financial services companies to help them simplify and better manage their regulatory requirements by connecting and managing siloed, manual reporting processes and the uncontrolled circulation of spreadsheets.

Excel is already prevalent in Capital Markets where its ease of use and familiarity to traders, combined with calculation and analysis capabilities have made it the de-facto tool for a huge number of tasks ranging from simple data manipulation to managing huge calculations involving multiple spreadsheets. Unfortunately, the sheer volume of data handled often gives rise to highly complex collections of linked workbooks, and multiple versions of the same spreadsheets. This, in turn, leads to major problems when undertaking data consolidation, audit and regulatory compliance activities.

As domestic and global financial services companies continue to focus on meeting regulatory requirements such as Basel II, MiFID and Sarbanes-Oxley, fixing the processes which support data flow through the business is paramount. In an effort to remove complexity and man hours from the compliance process, many financial services companies have had to consider a costly investment in new front and back-end systems to help manage data. These projects could incur a massive technology cost and additional re-training expense with no guarantees of success. Now, with the launch of Excel Services for the financial sector a new, simple and cost effective option exists.

With the release of Excel Services, financial services companies are now able to manage business-critical spreadsheets by holding them on servers rather than having different versions strewn throughout the organisation in an uncontrolled way. Excel Services ensures that when data is updated, the spreadsheet is also automatically updated since it is accessed via a web browser, thus ensuring everyone within the organisation has a single clear view of the information. Also, to help simplify the complexity of Linked workbooks Excel can now support more than 16,000 columns and 1m rows.

“Microsoft Excel’s sophisticated calculation and analysis capabilities, combined with ease of use and programmability, has led to wide deployment in Capital Markets for critical applications such as pricing and risk management. We at HCL technologies see a huge take-up of Excel Services solutions in Capital Markets for rapid application development around Excel and our partnership with Microsoft is an example of the significant investments we’re making in developing deployment capabilities to prepare for this take up”, said Rajeev Sawhney, Corporate Vice President and Head of HCL Europe.

“Within Financial Services and other industries, Excel is the glue that links the majority of the business processes of an organisation together. However, it has been the curse of the compliance department. Excel Services is now redefining the way that financial services companies build solutions and manage their compliance requirements, making like easier for the industry “, says James Burns, CTO Financial Services, Microsoft UK.

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