A quick turnaround is necessary in a world like ours, where every minute counts. Similarly, given the competition and the unique nature of our business, we depend on customized data processing. Talend's user-friendly, high performing solution helps us meet this challenge.Willy Cousin, BI Project Leader
An international brokerage firm
Founded in 1990, Exane specializes in three businesses:
- Cash Equities, with a strong franchise in Europe under the Exane BNP Paribas brand name;
- Equity Derivatives, which is expanding strongly, thanks to the group's mature issuance platform for tailored structured products;
- Asset Management, the group's most recent venture, is growing sharply, drawing on buoyant positioning in long/short alternative equity funds.
Exane's net banking product in 2007 was €494 million ($620 million) and its gross revenue was nearly €110 million ($138 million).
With 900 employees, the Company has offices in Paris, London, Frankfurt, Geneva, Milan, New York, Singapore and Zurich. Research teams comprising nearly 100 analysts are valued by their clients and score highly in key investor surveys: Exane BNP Paribas was ranked number 1 by Equity Sectors Research for its equity sales. This expertise is validated and supported by the sales teams whose customers are located all over the world.
Information systems at the heart of day-to-day activities
Operations management in financial services is divided into three departments - Front Office, Middle Office, and Back Office - with specific requirements for each.
The Front Office manages customer relations and also places orders on various markets. Once complete, these orders are sent to the Middle Office teams who ensure that the operation runs smoothly. This means that the Middle Office confirms transactions with clients and monitors any outstanding Front Office activities. Then the Back Office acts to follow up on settlement and delivery.
Playing in a highly competitive market requires that Exane continually improve its information system to stay at the forefront of technology and maintain its edge.
In 2007, the company put a new management tool called Midway into production. Developed internally and based on a SQL Server 2005 solution, this tool replaced several legacy applications used to manage trade confirmations and analysis in the Middle Office's Securities Department. Once implemented, Exane reviewed the organization of its data warehouse in an effort to improve its reporting structure (a Business Objects solution) and decided to develop a data warehouse that would consolidate all the data needed for analysis. The database schema-organized in a star-allows efficient selection of either aggregate or granular data while significantly improving reporting performance.
"The company didn't have a single tool dedicated to data flows and transformations," says Willy Cousin, BI Project Leader at Exane). "After a review of the market, we decided to implement an ETL (Extract-Transform-Load) solution from one of Talend's competitors. However, this deployment proved to be far more complicated than expected and the performance of the tool wasn't up to our requirements - lack of ergonomics, complex development cycle, no application for versioning and team work, and poor performance when writing to an Oracle database. To compensate for those weaknesses, Exane had to acquire an additional module ("Bulk") to scale from 35 lines/second to 4,500 lines/second."
Talend Data Integration - power and performances
In January 2008, a new initiative concerning new procedures in the fight against money laundering (AML) raised new questions about how Exane used ETL. "We learned about Talend at a BI Forum and, after a comparative study of several ETL solutions (including Talend Open Studio for Data Integration and Talend Data Integration), we decided to develop a prototype with them," explains Willy Cousin. "The results were conclusive and we chose Talend Data Integration because of the benefits of its enterprise deployment features, including automation and collaboration, while also getting support services tailored specifically to our business. We were able to entirely redesign our data warehouse with Talend Data Integration which also let us integrate new data flows."
"Development is easy and Talend's pricing is one of the most interesting on the market. At the same time, Talend's ELT mode lets us deport database processing and benefit from specific functionalities. This is particularly useful in merge operations that we can now carry out directly in Oracle. This functionality is a prerequisite for the purchase of any integration solution."
A responsive and custom-made information system
For the AML project - now in production - as for all the BI projects (compliance, repositories, etc), Exane developed a dedicated Datamart, fed by data extracted from the data warehouse; processing was provided by Talend Data Integration and the reporting by a Business Object application.
"Although the data volumes we're dealing with aren't very large (over 100,000 lines a day) we publish approximately 1000 reports daily for analysis and control. Our data warehouse, which hosts more and more data flows, must be reliable and perform well in all situations." adds Willy Cousin.
The system processes data from the day before, while the reporting has to be available to users by the next day at 8:00 a.m. Therefore, the data integration has to be performed in a very short time window, between 5:00 a.m. and 8:00 a.m.
"A quick turnaround is necessary in a world like ours, where every minute counts. Similarly, given the competition and the unique nature of our business, we depend on customized data processing. Talend's user-friendly, high performing solution helps us meet this challenge," concludes Willy Cousin.
Three other projects will be developed or completely rewritten with Talend Data Integration. "The first is a consolidation of operations and positions from the Front and Back Offices, with dedicated reporting," says Willy Cousin. "The second concerns resuming data feeds to the Essbase cubes dedicated to cash management and management control. Here, the data volumes are more consistent (400,000 lines/day) and the restructuring of the cubes, which respond to changing business requirements, will take advantage of Talend Data Integration's automation features. And finally, we're also thinking of redefining the supply system used to calculate our daily revenue."