Friday, September 30, 2005

Standard Settlement Instructions (SSI)

Looks like I might need a refresher on Standard Settlement Instructions (SSI). I haven't worked with these beasts since I was doing FXNet for Citicorp. Here is a brief document:

ISDA is the International Swaps and Derivatives Association, and is the organization that governs the trading of credit derivatives. You'll be sure to hear more about ISDA in future installments.

DTCC's Deriv/Serv for CDS Matching

DTCC Deriv/SERV, a new matching service that is rapidly gaining industry acceptance as the preferred solution in derivatives post-trade processing, brings automation,standardization and greater certainty to this market forthe first time. Using existing mainframe-to-mainframeconnections the Depository Trust & Clearing Corporation has with firms, DTCC Deriv/SERV’s process is conducted in real-time, highly automated, and identifies errors for correction immediately.

Article on Credit Derivatives

My, how the market for Credit Derivatives has grown!

For those of you who are new to credit derivative swaps:

CDSs are bilateral financial contracts in which one counterparty, the protection buyer, pays a periodic fee, typically expressed as a percentage of the notional amount, in return for a contingent payment by the protection seller following a credit event of a reference entity, usually a corporation. Payment is made when an issuer's credit event, such as a bankruptcy, occurs.

It sounds like an insurance policy, and in many ways, it is. Except, insurance policies cannot be traded, either individually or in baskets. Many financial institutions are using CDS's to manage risk.

There was an article that I read in the New York Times not long ago that proclaimed risk managers to be the new rock stars of Wall Street. More boring than Gordon Gecko, but definitely important post-2001.

(Credit Derivatives Technology is one of the specialities of my new employer)

Microsoft Certifications

Even though our company has some fantastic developers and architects, we are a bit light in the Microsoft Certification department. Many of the great technical people that I have run into on Wall Street do not have Microsoft Certifications, mainly because..... well, they are too busy at work to persue it. As a long time consultant, I have never been asked by a potential client if I was certified.

Nevertheless, certification does seem to have some benefits, mainly in terms of marketing your organization. Microsoft likes to see an organization with a certain percentage of certified employees before they will allocate you "partner" status.

Has anybody found certification to be worthwhile? Does the time spent in preparing for the exams resulted in any substantial gains for you or your organization?

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Tibco EMS and Financial Companies

The last project that I headed up used Tibco EMS as the messaing system. The major financial company that I did this project for has an enterprise license for EMS, and is deploying it throughout the entire organization.

Tibco has created .NET assemblies for EMS. Since Tibco EMS implements the Java Messaging Service (JMS) spec, we have have a slew of .NET developers who are going to be exposed to JMS. Windows programmers who have be confined to using MSMQ in the past are now going to have to deal with a slightly different paradigm.

Before diving headfirst into JMS, it is best to get familiar with the Best Practices and AniPatterns associated with JMS. To help you along, here are some sites:

(Chapter 6, Bitter Messages, of Tate's Bitter Java AntiPatterns book)

Doing request/response is a bit tricky. Read about it in this article:

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Email notifications from OWA

When we are at a client's site, we need to use Outlook for Web Access (OWA) as the interface to the Finetix Exchange server. I am totally used to Yahoo Messenger's Taskbar-based notification mechanism for Yahoo Mail. Yesterday, I searched the web in hopes of finding a similar kind of Taskbar-based notifier for Exchange mail.

I finally found one. If you are tired of constantly checking your OWA mailbox for new email, then download this little ditty:

This will monitor your Exchange inbox and display a notification icon in the Windows Taskbar when new mail arrives.

Interviewing Mode

Four people are coming in today to interview for a position on my team. The requirements are heavy C#/WinForms experience, architectural skills, and a small understanding of finance. In my old job, I probably interviewed at least 100 people for 2 similar positions, and we could not get a decent hit. The client ended up hiring a .NET superstar away from one of the Wall Street brokerage houses.

One of the main problems is that recruiters will doctor a candidate's resume so that it appears that they have WinForms experience. So, a typical line on a candidate's resume will read something like this:

I did an entire web-based .NET application using C# and WinForms.

With the advent of websites like, everyone knows the standard .NET questions. I would like to hear what your favorite .NET, C#, and architecture questions are. Feel free to post a comment.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

First Days at Finetix

I have just left my job as the head of the .NET practice at an 1100-person consulting company, and I have just joined a boutique, high-end consultancy named Finetix LLC. Finetix specializes in financial workstations, and seems to have a very good reputation amongst various Wall Street companies. I was a bix anxious in joining them, so I did my due dilligence, and wrote to every Finetix employee that I could bring up on Google. Amazingly, not one of the former employees who wrote back had one negative thing to say about Finetix. Not one!

My first project is to work on rearchitecting a credit derivatives system for a major financial player. There is an employee-based team on the ground already at this client, and they have done some up front architecture. I hope I am not too late!

They are taking a huge legacy Excel application and making it the typical three-tier application. The app will have a .NET front end (Infragistics-based), and will use Web Services to communicate to the Java server. I sincerely hope that, in the very near future, financial companies throw both feet into the water and do a complete end-to-end .NET solution. Microsoft needs to do a better job of convincing legacy Wall Street players that .NET servers offer comparable performance and (ducking and hiding) security to Unix-based servers.

The team has chosen Liquid XML to map their schemas into PONOs and POJOs. (Plain Old NET/Java Objects). I went to the Liquid site, and unfortunately, they don't have any eval copies. If I decide to take my standard MVC-based approach, I wonder if I can still use datasets for the underlying data representation for the data models., and use common XSDs between ther Microsoft MSDatasetGenerator and Liquid's PONO generator.

I am also hoping to get some exposure to the Spring.NET framework, which my counterparts in the London office are using. Today, I am playing around with Spring.NET. I haven't experienced the nirvana of Aspect-Oriented Programming yet, but I am sure that my colleague Deglan will show me the way. Some of the concepts in Spring are remarkably similar to the last project that I architected, so the concepts are certainly not foreign.

Musical Note : Meshuggah at the Starland Ballroom in New Jersey on October 11th.