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    The Move to T+1: Short Term Pain Will Lead to Gain for Securities Lending

     

    The May 2024 transition to T+1 in North America will have a significant impact on a wide range of financial services functions and products. With this shift, securities and cash transactions will settle within one business day after trade-date versus the current two-day standard. This will have the benefit of increasing market efficiencies and reducing settlement and counterparty risk; however, industry participants need to be prepared for the changes to daily trading functions that will likely result.  

    For securities lending programs in particular, T+1 will create an immediate need for streamlined processing. The most poignant example of this is when securities on loan need to be returned to meet sale obligations that fund purchases. Timely notification, standardized communication and efficient collateral management are of paramount importance. Facing a shorter settlement window means market participants will have to expedite their processes, including establishing earlier instruction deadlines and intra-day trade notifications, to improve their efficiency.

    As market participants grapple with this shortened timeline, those that currently operate in a straight-through processing environment are well positioned because they have automated systems that allow data to flow between multiple parties. Those that do not may struggle with the shortened settlement window and will need to quickly ramp up their automation, either by making changes to their systems, or by working with providers that already operate in a straight-through environment. These short-term pains can lead to efficiency gains that help market participants reap the benefits of T+1.

    The Impact on Securities Lending

    The securities lending industry is anticipating unique challenges as it transitions to T+1. The shift means that borrowers and lenders will have to shorten notification timeframes to process transactions within hours instead of days. For example, the current cut-off time for recalls is up to 3:00 pm ET on trade date + 1, but this will be incompatible with the compressed settlement cycle. It will be important for investment managers to relay sale notifications as close to market execution as possible so that, in the case of recalls, the recall due date and contractual settlement date align. Without timely sale notifications, there is a risk of delay or settlement failure, which can have financial consequences.

    Communications standards will go a long way in easing the transition to T+1. Establishing industry standards for recalls, for example, would cater to the needs of lenders and borrowers. This means agreeing on cut-off times, across different time zones, and receiving more real-time information to complete multiple automated security recalls within a single day. 

    The shift to T+1 also puts collateral management under the spotlight as borrowers may be required to put up collateral more quickly to meet margin and settlement requirements. Market participants with automated collateral management systems will more easily adapt to the shortened timelines, with access to more efficient processing and better data tracking.

    While the transition to T+1 may create short term pains for securities lending, the shortened settlement window has the potential to create long term gains. Firstly, the shift to T+1 is driving industry wide automation, improved communication standards and heightened use of technology to help minimize challenges. This will make markets more efficient to better serve investors. Secondly, T+1 may drive counterparties to consider securities lending to source securities to meet a compressed settlement window, increasing securities lending volumes. Finally, the shift may alleviate associated market risk since the time one party is exposed to counterparty risk will be shorter than before, thus reducing the potential exposure to a default or other adverse events, as well.

    How to Prepare for T+1

    The goal of T+1 is to create a more efficient market environment by enabling more thorough straight-through processing (STP). Improving automation and communicating more efficiently will be of the utmost importance for a smooth and successful transition.

    As the shift to T+1 nears, it may be helpful for market participants to think through their preparedness. The following questions are important to consider. 

    Considerations for Beneficial Owners via their Investment Managers:

    • Do you operate in a straight through processing environment when instructing trades?
    • Have you considered any technology upgrades to meet the condensed settlement window?
    • Is your sale notification process automated and aligned with trade execution?
    • Have you assessed the impact of T+1 on your liquidity management?

    Considerations for Borrowers:

    • Does your securities lending program utilize automated processes?
    • Is your recall communication process automated?
    • Do you operate in a straight through processing environment for recalls?
    • Have you considered any technology upgrades to meet the condensed settlement window?
    • Have you assessed the impact of T+1 on your liquidity management?
    • Are you prepared to provide collateral more quickly?
    • Are you currently using a service provider to manage non-cash collateral?

    If the answer is ‘no’ to any of these questions, market participants should seek to improve their processes and technology or find a service provider that can help them automate more quickly. For instance, borrowers who manually manage their non-cash collateral will benefit from automated collateral management capabilities. In addition, it is vital for market participants to assess the efficiency of their middle and back-office procedures as they undergo the shift to T+1 since the success of securities lending is dependent on timely notification and accurate communication. A service provider with efficient investment operations who is prepared for the changing market environment will be best suited for this transition.

    Embracing Automation

    The move to T+1 is quickly approaching, and market participants need to adapt to ensure they are prepared. It will be critical for post-trade processes to be timely and automated considering the significant narrowing of the window between trade communication and settlement. T+1 will reconfigure many of the ways the securities lending market operates, leading to short term pain, but participants in securities lending programs will ultimately gain from the improved efficiency and increased automation that will result.

    Ryan Barrett portrait

    Ryan Barrett

    Head of Securities Finance, North America
    Ryan Barrett is Senior Vice President and Head of Securities Finance, North America at Northern Trust in Chicago.

     


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