Gensec implements Sagent data mart for analysts

Susan Andre 1999

Gensec, the investment banking group, is implementing a historical pricing and volatilities data mart. This is the first phase of a data warehouse project for the rationalisation of several databases onto one platform.

Sagent SA, the data warehouse solutions company, has been contracted to design and implement the data warehouse and install the Sagent data mart solution. Sabir Munshi, group IT officer for Gensec, sees this as the first step in the management of Gensec's strategic information.

Gensec risk analysts use financial data from a variety of sources such as stock exchanges, Reuters, I/Net Bridge and derived data from financial analysis. Gensec has large amounts of shared data such as closing and historical prices, closing positions, financial and risk data. To date analysts have maintained this data themselves.

"This can take hours of their time, entering data and checking for inconsistencies," says Munshi. "These databases are growing and we needed to get to grips with them before they became unmanageable. Information is an asset whose integrity must be actively protected. As organisations grow, data resources proliferate."

An analysis done by Gensec IT, the results of which were confirmed by a strategic assessment done by PriceWaterhouseCoopers (New York), concluded that these information assets had to be rationalised, secured and managed. This would ensure data integrity and free risk analysts from data management tasks.

The primary criteria for the identification of a supplier were the ability and commitment to provide skills and knowledge transfer; software that had been successful internationally; flexibility of software to change the warehouse design as business requirements dictate; and open design techniques.

Gensec's data warehouse is housed in a SQL Server 6.5 database. The first phase provides closing prices information to the risk department. The second phase provides the full scope of closing price data. Daily updates are done on stock exchange data. Transactional information and international investment data will also be factored in later on. Sagent SA is responsible for the project, providing consultants with technical design and database skills and specialised project management.

Munshi sees the results as cost-effective. "The investment has been more than justified. Sagent SA has managed the project schedule efficiently, with each implementation taking six to 10 weeks. The Sagent team has ensured that Gensec's IT staff have indepth understanding of data warehouse design techniques such as denormalisation, and the unique aspects of managing such an implementation. We are taking an incremental approach, responding to real business requirements and we don't want to load irrelevant information. The provision of information underpins the risk analyst's effectiveness and supports Gensec's investment process," adds Munshi.