The Investment Roadmap, a guide created through a collaboration between the world’s leading messaging standards, to provide consistent and clear direction on messaging standards usage was released in May 2008. A year later, FPL’s Operations Director, Courtney Doyle asked the authors of the roadmap for their assessment of its impact on the industry and how they saw its future evolution.
Courtney Doyle: What was the motivation and purpose behind this Investment Roadmap collaboration?
Genevy Dimitrion (ISITC Chair): Today, Market Practice and Standards are inextricably linked and yet for all our efforts, Market Practice exists as a mere documented recommendation. However, we see convergence between the two areas to the point where market practice can be encapsulated directly into the standards themselves. The roadmap has a role to play in this evolution, and we see it as critical for the next generation of standards. It also helps to provide future users direction on which messaging standards should be used throughout the trade lifecycle.
Jamie Shay (Head of SWIFT Standards): Our involvement was driven by clear market demand from our customers. They needed clarity about which syntax to use in which space and, more importantly, they wanted a way to make these standards interoperable. SWIFT and FIX have been working together for a number of years towards a single business model in ISO 20022. The decision to work together on an Investment Roadmap was a natural progression. It provides clear direction with regard to messaging standards usage as it visually “maps” industry standards protocols, FIX, ISO and FpML, to the appropriate asset class and underlying business processes.
Karel Engelen (Director and Global Head Technology Solutions, ISDA): Similar to SWIFT, ISDA felt it was important to map out the coverage of each of the different standards so people could get a complete view of the industry standards at a glance. We also thought it would be a useful tool for determining where we had duplication of effort or functional gaps to complete.
Scott Atwell (FPL Global Steering Committee Co-Chair): As the others have pointed out, we needed to provide greater clarity as to how the various standards ‘fit together’. We sought an approach that recognizes, leverages, and includes the financial industry standards without reinventing and creating redundant messages that generate cost and confusion for the industry. The effort was named ‘Investment Roadmap’ as its founding purpose was to aid industry firms’ technology investment decision making.
Courtney Doyle: The roadmap was released over a year ago. Is the community referring to it and using it as a guide on how to invest in standards? How should firms use it and what does it mean for them?
Scott Atwell: FPL has found the roadmap useful as a tool for standards investment. However, the roadmap benefits are multifaceted. It has driven an even greater level of collaboration and cooperation amongst our standards organizations. Discussing it often serves as a ‘conversation starter’ that leads to healthy discussion and debate. It has also served to facilitate key changes to the ISO 20022 process such as the ability for FIX to feed the ISO 20022 business model and to be the recognized syntax for the Pre-Trade/Trade model.
Genevy Dimitrion: ISITC consistently refers to the roadmap when presenting to our members as the guidelines on message standards to be used within the trade lifecycle. It has become an extremely helpful tool for our members in understanding the key standards available and how and when they should be used.
As the FIX Protocol itself evolves to meet the demands of its global, and increasingly diverse constituency of users, industry leader, John Cameron of Cameron Edge, looks at the democratic roots of FIX and how FPL is carrying that tradition forward through the use of online ‘wiki’ technology.
“Government of the people, by the people, for the people” – Abraham Lincoln. He could have been talking about FIX.
FIX was, and is, designed and managed by the people who use FIX in their everyday business. It is a solution to real life problems and its continuing close connection to the people and organizations that it serves is, and always has been, its greatest strength. The challenge is how best to manage that vital grassroots connection.
The traditional management structure that drives the development of the FIX Protocol has been very successful. As advised on the FPL website, the protocol’s management is led by “Technical and business professionals from FPL member firms”, these representatives “coordinate their activities and organize their work through a series of committees, subcommittees, and working groups, all overseen by a Global Steering Committee that aims to ensure consistency of protocol application as it is extended into new markets, asset classes, and phases of the trade lifecycle.”
In addition to this structure, it was recognized early on that technology had an important role to play in keeping FIX in close touch with the industry. The FPL website introduced public discussion forums back in the mid-90’s, where members of the financial community can post questions and comments regarding FIX, which are responded to by other members of the community. These forums, www.fixprotocol.org/discuss, along with their search capabilities, form a wealth of invaluable information about the interpretation of the FIX specification. They are a natural complement to the FIX specification documents.
For example, if someone is unsure of some aspect of the protocol, maybe the exact meaning and intended use of a particular FIX field value, they normally start by consulting the FIX specification. If the specification is not clear, they can search postings in the forums using appropriate keywords. If still unsure, they can post a question to a forum, which will normally be answered by other members of the community. Once answered, that query and its answer are a matter of public record on the forum, which may be useful to others in the future. This open, transparent, collaborative process has been essential to the success of FIX. It has meant that FIX has remained in close contact with the industry it serves and has enabled it to react quickly to changing industry demands.
In more recent years, we have seen this public collaborative process popularized and validated in a number of areas: notably the open source movement and, perhaps most strikingly, Wikipedia (www.wikipedia.org). Wikipedia is particularly interesting because it popularized the “wiki” – a technology specifically developed to support exactly the kind of collaborative process that has been at the core of FIX since its beginnings. The traditional FIX collaborative culture and wiki technology are a marriage made in heaven. Enter FIXwiki.
Located at www.fixprotocol.org/fixwiki, FIXwiki is a FIX-specific wiki website that provides a comprehensive and authoritative view of the FIX specification. There is a FIXwiki page for each FIX message, component, field, value or type. In addition to definitions taken from the specification, each page also has an area for user comments, clarifications, corrections, examples or suggestions. It enables representatives from FPL Member firms to actively contribute additional information, provide comments, and share knowledge and insight to support the future development of the FIX Protocol messaging standard and is viewable by the broader FIX user community, providing a valuable reference tool for all market participants.
FIXwiki is not intended to replace the existing FIX forums. The forums are ideal for discussions and it is likely that FIXwiki postings will contain many references to those discussions. A wiki, however, provides a better repository for capturing the clarifications, interpretations and examples of the FIX Protocol that come out of such discussions.
FIXwiki is generated automatically from the official FIX repository, which is the computer readable database underlying the FIX specification. Therefore, FIXwiki and the FIX specification can never drift apart – they are derived from the same underlying data. In fact, it is even possible that FIXwiki could eventually become the specification. Currently, the FIX specification is in the form of a series of Microsoft Word or PDF documents. However, the full text of those documents could be ported to FIXwiki.