A South-African based Insurance company recently implemented a new operating model across the business and engaged Excelian to implement Murex’s MX.3 platform as the new technical platform. Wesley Sukdao, Senior Consultant at Excelian speaks about his views on the project, the benefits to the client and the overall value proposition.  

Firstly, please can you explain the overall project that Excelian completed? 

Wesley Sukdao: The client, who offers Asset Management, Investment and Insurance Services, partnered with Excelian to implement MX.3 using MXpress in order to increase the efficiency of its company-wide balance sheet management function.

And can you describe the business problems which the client needed to address? 

Wesley Sukdao: There was a significant need to improve the business operating model, addressing not just the Audit and Compliance requirements but also improving Risk Management. The Operations department relied heavily on the use of spreadsheets, with processing and execution performed by third parties. The decision to host these functions in-house was done with the view to decrease operational costs, with the added benefit to affect change and exercise control over the process whenever required. 

Were there any unusual technical problems the client needed to address? 

Wesley Sukdao: The client required a flexible system that operated in real-time, covering the major functions of a buy-side operation. They also required a very complex workflow includes checks and balances to ensure trades trade within their approved limits and inform Credit if they come close to their limits and stop trades being confirmed if a credit limit is breached.  Trades that breach the limit must be approved / rejected by Credit before it can be confirmed. 

So what was the solution that Excelian provided for the client? 

Wesley Sukdao: The client’s procurement process, conducted by their Audit and Advisory Consulting firm, assessed proposals from the major treasury system vendors. Murex was chosen as the system to best fit the requirements with Excelian as the approved integrator. Two technologies were used; MX.3 (v.3.1.28) addressing Trading and Risk Management, and Murex Limits Controller (MLC) addressing Enterprise Level Risk Management. 

Excelian provided a team of 10 Murex SME’s (including a pool of resources from our Global Delivery Centre in Cape Town) to implement the complex functionality required by the client’s Front Office (Pricing, Risk and Fund Management), Middle Office (PnL Compliance and Risk Reporting, with Trade and Position Accounting) and Back Office (Trade Lifecycle and Cash Management) operations. 

What were the major project challenges that you faced during the implementation? 

Wesley Sukdao: The project required co-ordination between multiple companies, with the client, their audit and advisory consulting firm, the vendor Murex and Excelian the system integrator, so communication was a crucial challenge to overcome.

The lack of an existing system and inexperience of the client around systems resulted in a lot of CRs to the requirement document to meet their requirements.

Understanding responsibility between Murex and Excelian’s roll in the development resulted additional work to the Excelian Activity sheets.  

Some of the infrastructure around the Murex implementation was also new (Cash management/Payments, Market data feed, Reconciliation tools) resulting in challenges to build interfaces to new systems from spec.  This added to the ever changing requirements.

Why was this such an important project for Excelian? 

Wesley Sukdao: The project was of strategic importance to both Excelian and Murex as the operation was a comprehensive new build, a significant change initiative and the first project of its kind for a buy-side firm in Africa.  

Describe the business benefits the client experienced as a result of the project? 

Wesley Sukdao: We closed out major Audit points through the removal of Excel spreadsheets and improved controls around Trading and Risk management. The key cost saving for the project was due to the removal of external suppliers performing payment and confirmations.

How would you describe the client’s experience of working with Excelian? 

Wesley Sukdao: The client benefited from our local market knowledge, our ability to deploy senior subject matter experts and our close alliance with the software vendor. The delivery team also worked very well with the client project staff, many of whom had to manage their business as usual work as well as their commitments to the project.