Overcoming Hesitation About Capital Markets Application Modernization: Why a Critical Mindset Shift is Needed

The accelerated digital transformation in the financial services industry over the last 15 years has been nothing short of revolutionary, and there’s little sign that the pace of change is going to let up any time soon. Across all jobs and titles—from trading to risk and compliance and leadership—the expectations for tracking and reporting trades and exposure have morphed beyond recognition. Indeed, if someone in compliance from a decade ago was asked to meet today’s data compliance expectations, it’s likely that they would smile politely and then hand in their notice.

How can capital markets firms like yours best adapt to this dynamic environment? What mindset do you need to begin the process of modernizing the legacy technologies and computing architectures your firm relies on every day?

To answer those questions, let’s take a closer look at why application modernization is needed, the most common challenges, and, most importantly, the key to an effective solution.

The Enterprise Application Modernization Imperative for Capital Markets Firms

Capital markets firms must embrace a app modernization strategy centered around the sourcing, movement, processing, and distribution of data. More specifically, your firm needs to modernize its platforms so you can do better:

  • Adapt to market volatility. The increasing frequency and magnitude of price swings require complex event-based computations and distribution of data.
  • Manage expanding volumes of data. Applications are now publishers and consumers of extremely large datasets and the sheer volume of data in today’s capital markets prohibits traditional data processing architectures to work in real-time scenarios.
  • Comply with evolving regulations. Changes to trade, transaction, and risk reporting regulations have increased the need to access not only datasets representing historical information, but also new datasets derived from complex calculations executed on-demand and in real-time.
  • Increase revenue. Although capital markets applications have been traditionally considered a cost center, financial services firms are beginning to realize their potential for revenue, with a focus on monetization of internal data assets.

Application Modernization Challenges in Capital Markets

Despite the increasing necessity of application modernization, decommissioning legacy platforms in capital markets, especially those that have an enterprise-wide footprint, can be difficult and seem impossible in some cases. Generally speaking, the challenges you are facing are rooted in these three barriers:

  1. Data processing (capabilities to source, transform, and store data): Legacy data platforms are unable to process large amounts of real time datasets because they were designed to operate in a batch mode. The need for real-time processing of continuously changing datasets using streaming architectures is driven by the need to apply real-time business rules to achieve real-time business outcomes.
  2. Data distribution (capabilities to derive and aggregate data): Legacy data platforms are siloed datastores incapable of deriving insights across the organization’s eco-system of applications. By contrast, just-in-time derivation and aggregation of datasets distributed via a robust user API experience provides data availability across internal and external consumers.
  3. Data visualization: Legacy data platforms cannot implement domain-specific visualizations using custom or third-party vendor technologies. Business aligned visual dashboards that cater to the operational needs of the data consumer provide focused and relevant views of complex datasets with the ability to perform multi-dimensional analysis supported by drill through features for granular investigations.

These barriers are particularly high for core capital markets platforms carrying the burden of day-to-day risk management, pricing, and valuation of securities—and that is precisely why balancing the need to modernize technologies versus the need to maintain daily operations can be so daunting. As an executive at a financial services firm described it, modernizing capital markets applications is like “doing open heart surgery while the patient is running.”

Overcoming the Challenges of Application Modernization Requires Understanding the Data Value Chain

The key to overcoming the challenges of application modernization is to shift your mindset. Rather than taking a traditional, siloed “top-down” approach, you need to adopt a data-centric “bottom-up” strategy that is based on an understanding of the underlying value chain—from data sourcing through transformation to its eventual visualization. For many capital markets firms, this will lead to a comprehensive data re-orchestration to include a next generation application modernization cloud solution (to remedy the legacy barrier of data processing), data streaming (to remedy the legacy barrier of data distribution), and deep domain expertise (to guide data visualization and consumption).

The good news is that this type of greenfield strategy is easier than ever.

First, since the technology has been evolving incrementally over time, we haven’t just moved from T+1 to the Internal Models Approach (IMA) overnight. Second, there have been dramatic improvements in the underlying technology that sits behind the APIs used by trading, reporting and compliance.

Advances in Technology Enable Strategic Transformation Without Impacting Existing Systems

Think back to 15 years ago, when individual desks would report their activities differently, leaving compliance to try and bring it all together and make it coherent. Since then, the increased use and evolution of APIs has enabled different parts of an organization to work from the same datasets. That means even though they might use the data differently, all desks can start from the same place with data that has been accredited as robust, secure and, importantly, auditable. This reduces the risk of misunderstanding between trading desks, compliance teams, and leadership and lets both trading and compliance teams ensure that trading strategies are correct, rather than debating the derivation of the data. It also enables institutions to respond to regulatory changes more effectively.

Today, application modernization can occur without disrupting these existing business systems or the technology in business environment. How? It’s all thanks to significant advancements in the technology underlying the APIs. They make it possible for trading and compliance teams to continue to work—and innovate—day to day, even as modernization initiatives are underway. In other words (and modifying slightly the expression I used earlier), these technological advancements allow the patient to not only run, but win, while surgery is being performed.

Ness Offers Full-Lifecycle Digital Transformation

Ness is a full lifecycle digital engineering firm offering digital advisory through scaled engineering services. For more than 20 years, we have provided business transformation services across the full range of industries, including Capital Markets, banking, financial technology software vendors and Market Information and Analytics providers. We help our clients transform to next generation application modernization cloud-based platforms that power that world’s leading global banks, asset managers, wealth managers, information and analytics providers, payments, and core banking platforms and improve the way our clients’ customers consume financial services. For more information, visit ness.com.


What is application modernization?

It’s about the updation and upgradation of legacy architectures to enhance performance, agility, and tighter alignment to changing business demands and technology needs.

Why is application modernization important?

It is crucial to empower businesses with agility and efficiency by using the best digital technologies and practices.

What is application modernization and innovation?

It is a process of overhauling traditional applications with digital technologies to ensure agility and scale that can drive innovation and growth.

What is application modernization VMware?

This refers to using VMware suite of tools to enhance legacy applications to make them cloud-native, containerized, microservice based architectures.

Why do enterprises need application modernization?

Application modernization is very critical. It helps companies reduce technical debt, stay competitive and meet customer demands more efficiently.

How do you modernize an application?

You must evaluate the existing state of the application, know the target architecture and the technologies required, design a roadmap, restructure the code, migrate data, test the application and deploy to production.