What is our primary use case?
It's an integral part of our surveillance.
Specifically, I do futures surveillance across all products. I look at futures trades for in-house and customers across fixed income, equities, and FX. That's my specific use case, but my colleagues, who do product surveillance in fixed income, use a Global Actimize solution to also look at a specific products like OTC treasuries versus fixed income futures and other products.
Our company is global. We have six direct market access sites in the world. The US is one, the UK is another and Hong Kong and Singapore are three and four. Then we have two more that are small DMA sites. There are people at each DMA site that use Actimize. In the US, it's about 20 people, which is comparable to Hong Kong, which covers Singapore; in the UK, it's probably 30. Then we have an offshore team in India, composed of about 20 people that touch Actimize. Finally, at the other DMA sites, just a handful, maybe five.
We're fully invested in this solution, but we also have three other surveillance systems at level one, and Actimize is not the future for my firm. There's another system called Trading Hub, which is popular in Europe — that's the way of the future for us, for better or worse. We don't have a demise date for Actimize yet. It's at least a couple of years out, but we're trying to migrate towards Trading Hub and internal solutions. As of today, and for next year, we'll be fully invested in Actimize — we rely on it.
How has it helped my organization?
In terms of management information (MI), it isn't push-button, and by that, I mean that all the MI we need for specific alerts or specific clients has to be extracted, sometimes tediously by individual alerts. Some Mi is more automated. Maybe we could code the extractions to be more complete, if money was unlimited, which it is not.
In any case, we can track MI internally to see where potential problems or hotspots may be occurring. From a bank standpoint, it allows us to look at which clients or house traders might be problematic, and which rule-sets are running hot.
What is most valuable?
It's a very good case management system. We use that at level-one, so it's a first-pass review, and all our reviews have to be reviewed. It's a very good case manager for making comments and saving the comments and having an audit trail around the comments.
Our regulators, which are government regulators, and our auditors at the bank want complete audit trails. They want to understand why an alert was closed or escalated and they want to be able to randomly pull alerts and make sure that we're doing what we promise we're doing. Actimize allows us to provide that evidence when we're asked.
What needs improvement?
We use a separate system for level-two escalations — those are deeper investigations. If I was designing a tool, I guess it would be able to track a case from level-one to level-two to the conclusion, so that we wouldn't have to use multiple instances of different software. A more holistic surveillance approach would be a step in the right direction.
In my experience, I've never seen any facility on Actimize to facilitate level two and conclusions. If they did go in that direction, it would allow firms like mine to drop yet another piece of software that we use to track level two and level three escalations.
For how long have I used the solution?
I've been using this solution since January of 2018.
What do I think about the stability of the solution?
It's very stable. Most of the problems that occur in our world tend to be about data feeds or processes not running, but Actimize itself is pretty stable.
What do I think about the scalability of the solution?
It's very scalable. We use it around the world for many different types of alerts and products. It's very scalable.
How are customer service and technical support?
My experience with Nice technical support is that they are very responsive. I would give them a rating of eight out of ten — they are very responsive.
Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?
I've used HP Autonomy/ It's functional in a more primal way.
How was the initial setup?
At my previous company, the initial setup was a bit of a stumble for us; however, I think that was our fault — we didn't deploy enough resources to give it a smooth launch. We didn't have as many resources as I think we should have had in the IT department to make the transition more smoothly. When it was launched into production, it had a lot of bugs in it, which we had to spend three to six months working out so that it would become a more usable tool.
By the time I joined my current company, it was fully functional. We still are improving the rule-sets within Actimize, but Actimize itself runs very smoothly.
What about the implementation team?
At my previous company, a combination of an overseas team and a domestic team, including productive product project managers of roughly 12 to 15 people were responsible for getting it up and running. I'm not even counting the people who were trying to find bugs and clarify it, but those were the people directly involved in touching the back of the application.
Deployment took three to five months before it was usable — we had a bad launch.
It's constantly becoming more sophisticated. We may find that we need to change the coding in a ruleset. We have a JIRA process where we suggest improvements in rule sets and it's constantly under improvement. I would assume it's very much the same for other banks. We have to make our systems more sophisticated because financial crimes get more sophisticated.
What was our ROI?
What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?
I'm not involved in the licensing negotiations, but personally, I don't like the length of our vendor contracts because it kills our flexibility. I understand why they do it though. I know they're doing it for predictability and such, but from my perspective, it doesn't allow us to be as flexible. My bank and several other banks are very large and they don't value flexibility. They value consistency more than flexibility. So I think it was a choice based on the size of the bank and the size of the contract. I don't know what the numerical value of the contract is.
We have a support contract. When we make changes, there are additional charges for making new changes or additions to our standard contract. I also don't know the value of those, but I have heard conversations on conference calls that there's going to be a cost involved with Actimize for making changes beyond a certain point. So, we have a basic support contract, and beyond that, we have to pay for additional changes.
Which other solutions did I evaluate?
We opted to choose Trading Hub. I think there's a company called Smarsh that we spoke with and there was a third company whose name I don't recall. These are multi-year contracts with these vendors. For this reason, we take our time and choose very slowly and deliberately because when we make changes, it affects our whole global operations. So it has effects a lot of downstream resources.
In our experience, when these products are launched, they're highly supported by the vendor, in this case, Nice. As they get more mature, the vendor wants to develop new solutions and charge more money, and the new solutions are more sophisticated and do more things and have more buttons and such, but they start to slow down and stop supporting their older products. I would say — Actimize is not being moved forward by Nice. We have to move towards a new platform. I guess we want some diversification. We use a lot of Nice products for coms and voice recordings and I think maybe there was just a sense that we're over-relying on one single company. Those are the main reasons why we are switching solutions in the near future.
Actimize is built for surveillance that is more the standard of excellence between 2010 to maybe 2017. It tends to be threshold rule-based and the new threshold, the new software, and the new vendor applications tend to be more statistically based or artificial intelligence/ machine learning-based. That's the future, the current state for some of our competitors, in the future for the rest of our competitors and ourselves is to move towards smarter alerts that look at transactions without fixed thresholds and look at things in the context of what else is coming through our pipes — Nice Actimize is just not there.
What other advice do I have?
From our experience, when these products are launched, they're highly supported by the vendor, in this case, Nice. But as they get more mature, the vendor wants to develop new solutions and charge more money, and the new solutions are more sophisticated and do more things and have more buttons and such, but they start to slow down and stop supporting their older products. I would say — Actimize is not being moved forward by Nice. We have to move towards a new platform because we want some diversification. We use a lot of Nice products for coms and voice recordings. I think maybe there was just a sense that we're over-relying on one single company. That's the main reason why we are going to switch solutions in the near future.
My advice for anyone looking to implement this solution: I suggest that they look elsewhere. There is a lot of new innovation coming from other firms.
There's no single big lesson to be learned. It's a great starting point for small to medium-sized banks. It's very comprehensive and scalable, but when you get to more sophisticated operations, I don't think it's very forward-looking — I don't think it's a great solution.
Overall, on a scale from one to ten, I would give this solution rating of seven.
It's very reliable but it's dated, it's not something that I would want to start deploying today unless the size of my operation dictated that I used this solution.