Cross-Border Processing: The Industrialisation of Corporate Banking

by Axel Pierron,  Bart Narter, May 23, 2006


Paris, France May 23, 2006

Celent estimates that banks can achieve an approximately 16% reduction of total non-interest operational expense by moving business lines to an integrated platform with a processing center in a low-cost offshore location.

The international expansion of financial institutions has created an IT architecture, operations, and risk management nightmare. As a result, banks are not enjoying the economies of scale that should be achievable, given the size of their activities. Moving to a cross-border processing center will help address these issues and cut costs, according to the new Celent report, .

"Increasingly, we are observing banks trying to break down these national silos and move to cross-border processing by consolidating their operations and technologies and delivering their services through centres designed to support clients around the world," says Axel Pierron, analyst and co-author of the report.

"In terms of the potential cost savings, we estimate that a reduction of over 15% of total non-interest expense is achievable by moving to a cross-border processing centre model in a low-cost, offshore location. Economies of scale through centralisation account for about one-third of these savings, with the cost advantages of the offshore location accounting for over 60% of the savings," adds Octavio Marenzi, CEO of Celent and co-author of the report.

"In certain business lines, especially for some corporate products, banks that wish to remain global players and distribute proprietary services will eventually implement a cross-border processing strategy. Achieving a full-fledged industrial approach to creating banking services will be essential for banks to remain competitive and profitable," comments Mr. Pierron.

But pulling together disparate systems and streamlining duplicate applications are risky, costly endeavours. Furthermore, enabling the entire system for real time operations is beyond the capabilities of most computing platforms. What is needed is an approach that tackles the reality of today's disjointed wholesale banking systems.

"The biggest challenge is the typical tradeoff between centralised and localised control," says Bart Narter, senior analyst and co-author of the report. "Local banks will always want a system that works just right for them, optimising the solution for their branch or country. The bank as a whole wants to optimise for the entire institution. Friction remains. One of the most instructive instances of this tension is the Citibank Cosmos project."

The report examines the drivers that are encouraging international banks to develop cross-border processing centres. It also provides a detailed analysis on the instruments that are the most suited for cross-border processing, as well as the advantages, such as expected cost savings, and challenges of implementing a cross-border processing strategy.

The 29-page report contains 15 figures and 1 table.

A table of contents is available online.


Celent is a research and advisory firm dedicated to helping financial institutions formulate comprehensive business and technology strategies. Celent publishes reports identifying trends and best practices in financial services technology and conducts consulting engagements for financial institutions looking to use technology to enhance existing business processes or launch new business strategies. With a team of internationally based analysts, Celent is uniquely positioned to offer strategic advice and market insights on a global basis. Celent is a member of the Oliver Wyman Group, which is a wholly-owned operating unit of Marsh & McLennan Companies [NYSE: MMC].

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Table of Contents

Paris, France May 23, 2006

Executive Summary 3
Introduction 5
Drivers Of Cross-Border Operations 6
Implementing Cross-Border Operations 9
Advantages Of Cross-Border Operations 15
  Cost Reduction 15
  Imponderable Benefits 15
Impediments To Cross-Border Operations 22
Conclusion 27
Objectivity & Methodology 28

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