How Refinitiv helps businesses navigate coronavirus crisis

May 05, 2020 06:00
Refinitiv's Asia-Pacific managing director Alfred Lee said the firm has been busy delivering business continuity solutions for clients, mainly financial services institutions. Photo: Refinitiv.

An unprecedented crisis like coronavirus will reshape how humans behave and change how businesses work forever.

As for the financial data giant Refinitiv, it has leveraged the cloud computing and other digital technology, to continue its services in informing and driving global trading with its massive data feeds, as businesses rush to adopt remote working on a wider scale than ever seen before.

Previously as Thomson Reuters Corp’s Financial and Risk unit, Refinitiv became a spin-off startup after a majority stake sale to U.S. private equity firm Blackstone in 2018.

“If you trace back the history, it’s almost 160 years of history for the heritage and our roots in Reuters,” said Refinitiv's Asia-Pacific managing director Alfred Lee.

Serving about 40,000 institutions with about 400,000 end-users, Refinitiv helps inform and drive hundreds of billions of dollars in trading with data feeds for various financial instruments, and provides the market data infrastructure for trading venues around the globe. It also supports corporate clients in the fight against financial crime, offering risk intelligence records for their Know Your Customer (KYC) and anti-money-laundering (AML) processes.

As the coronavirus pandemic hammers the world, the financial data giant feels the shock to the businesses. “In early April, we saw a new record in terms of the number of messages [from clients’ communications] coming through our platform, which was 176 billion [pieces], more than double from the previous record, which was when the Brexit announcement came about,” said Lee.

With the rapid spread of the virus, companies, including established institutions, have been scrambling to adopt remote working technologies. “In the first few weeks, a lot of global, big private banking firms were not able to support their relationship managers to work from home, because they are not able to have access to their Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system remotely,” said Lee.

And Refinitiv has been busy delivering remote work and business continuity solutions for clients, mainly financial services institutions. “What we did not expect was the sheer number of people who actually are not as equipped as you expect them, to be working in the financial market, to have quick access to services which they usually use in office, and that includes the regulators.”

Lee told EJ Insight that the firm was called upon in March by one of the central banks in Asia, to help them activate a business continuity planning (BCP) site.

“Of course their operation is extremely critical, and they had to set it up within days,” he said, “and within two days, we set up a full fledged trading environment [for them].”

On the other hand, as a provider of financial markets data, insights and infrastructure to clients worldwide, Lee said they have seen a lot of interest from clients seeking the analysis and guidance of “what’s going on in the market”, amid the recent market volatility and turbulence.

To help professional users to navigate through these turbulent markets, Refinitiv has launched a new “Coronavirus App”, which gives users real-time access to statistics of the pandemic, as well as the market data and industry- and company-wise analysis.

“We provided a lot of analysis and models that we have on our system that allows them to look at a company's financial strength, and then there is a model that would predict and rank all the companies within a certain sector or industry.”

While face-to-face meetings and conferences in the recent period are suspended due to the virus outbreak, Refinitiv has been organizing webinars and conversations with its clients. In China alone, hundreds of webinars have been held and the uptake for each is mostly in hundreds, according to Lee, while Refinitiv’s solutions and insights on KYC screening and anti-money laundering are among the most popular topics.

Dubbed as a “FinTech startup with 160-year history”, Refinitiv has come through the long journey from the time when the use of data was viewed as a “nice-to-have”, to the present time when data, “the new oil”, becomes a must for corporate decision-making.

“The name of Refinitiv is in fact quite new, it’s slightly more than a year”, said Lee. “But if you trace back 160 years ago, before people talk about FinTech, machine learning, natural language processing and all that, actually we were already using technologies to support the financial markets.”

Refinitiv believes that "Data is just the beginning", and Lee affirms that the company will continue dedicating to serve the financial industry with cutting-edge technologies.

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EJ Insight writer