The following are the remarks of the TC 68 Chair, Jim Northey, delivered at the opening of the recent Plenary meeting of TC 68 on 5 October 2021
Thank you for allowing me a second term to serve as TC 68 Chair. The key here is that TC 68 is a service organization to our subcommittees. In turn, our subcommittees serve the financial services industry by creating and maintaining reference data, information exchange, and information security standards.
Finance is a great enabler of global commerce. At its best, finance works to allocate capital efficiently to promote the needs of humankind. At its worst, by arbitrage in all its forms and via the employment of information asymmetry, finance exploits and creates huge gaps in wealth and quality of life.
It is ironic that two of the current major areas of activity within financial services are crypto-assets and environmental and social and governance (ESG). ESG falls within the area of sustainable finance. Sustainable finance is focused on stakeholder engagement to promote virtuous behaviors on the part of the private sector for the good of the planet and society, while the crypto-assets, as currently realized, consume more electricity than most countries and seems unsustainable! How can two such extremes exist at the same time. An exercise in cognitive dissonance for sure.
Likewise, within sustainable finance we are seeing positive impacts, yet we also see the creation of derivative instruments that seem to exploit and profit from the consequences of stakeholder engagement and the greenwashing of corporate assets by divestment of lines of business that are under stakeholder scrutiny to private equity.
I’m now 62. So, I ask myself, how can I be kind to the time given me in this short existence to play some small positive role for society? How, in a small technical committee that takes care of a few technical standards for the financial services industry, can we contribute and have a positive impact on the challenges facing society, especially with respect to climate change and any inequality in all its various forms?
We must not suffer delusions of grandeur, of course. We take care of a handful of standards for identifiers and support mechanisms for information exchange. Within this context, though, I believe there are areas where we can make positive contributions. I would like to put forth a challenge to all of us that within our scope in taking care of some of the plumbing that drives commerce, we look for ways to use our identifiers and our information exchange mechanisms to enhance and empower the users of these standards to promote and effectively enable the three critical areas of sustainable finance: environmental, social, and governance.
We had several retirements of our friends and colleagues this year perhaps hastened by the global pandemic but also as a result of the continuous march and tyranny of time. When each of us looks back on our time in service in the development of these standards, how will each of us measure our performance and contributions? Will we say in our own small way that we contributed and supported positive change or will each of us be faced with the nagging pangs of doubt that we merely preserved the status quo. I would like to challenge all of us and myself as this second term of service begins to try to be part of that change that makes a positive difference for humanity within our very small context in which we work.
Priorities of TC 68
- Continue to promote the adoption of our identifiers and methods of information exchange for existing and future use cases.
- Incremental improvement, applying Kaizen, while minimizing disruption and breakage to increase adoption via improving the adoptability of our standards – especially with respect to decentralized finance and crypto-assets by:
- Improving metadata standards – possibly pursuing a metadata repository for TC 68 based upon other ISO standards.
- More tightly integrating our standards with each other.
- Support sustainable finance, including:
- Environment – bio-diversity, climate change.
- Social – proper treatment of employees, partners, and customers.
- Governance – diversity, transparency.
- Consider adopting management standards in emerging areas, such as digital assets.
TC 68 groups that serve the entire TC 68 community and beyond
Here is a summary of our groups.
AG2 – Standards Advisory Group is our primary interface to global regulators. There were changes in leadership with the retirement of Francois Laurent and re-prioritization of efforts by Allie Harris. Karla McKenna has stepped in as interim co-convener.
AG3 – Best Practices Advisory Group under the leadership of Karla McKenna is continuing to develop the guidelines for identifier standards.
AG4 – Sustainable Finance Advisory Group being led by Rebecca Healey and Charlotte Decuyper of the FIX Trading Community.
- Working with AG2 for regulatory response and guidance.
- Participating in ISO TMBG/CCCC, Technical Management Board Group, Climate Change Coordination Committee.
- Participating in ISO TMBG/SAG, Technical Management Board Group, Strategic Advisory Group on Environmental, Social, Governance (ESG) Ecosystem.
- Liaison experts to ISO TC 322, Sustainable Finance.
- Liaison experts to ISO TC 207, Environmental Management.
- An additional liaison is requested to TC 309, Governance of Organizations.
AG5 – Digital Currencies Advisory Group under the leadership of Stanley Yong of JP Morgan Chase is developing a research paper on identification for digital assets at a foundational level.
SG4 – Communications group with new leadership of Paul D’Amico (US) and Meredith Gibson (UK) who have taken over from Robin Doyle who retired from JP Morgan Chase this past summer.
TAG1 – Fintech Technical Advisory Group led by William Nichols (US) and Meredith Gibson (UK) continues to focus on providing educational opportunities for the TC 68 community in the areas of financial technology (fintech), decentralized finance, and crypto-assets.