The UK's merchant and investment banks claim their new Year 2000 forum, City 2000, will be "a doing group not a talking group".
According to chairman Clive Ryder - also assistant IT director of West Merchant Bank: ?What we want to have are discussions at a detailed level with the people who are actually doing the work, the Year 2000 project managers.?
The meetings will be held bi-monthly on the understanding that ?there is confidentiality within the group and that commercially sensitive issues are not discussed. But if you can?t have a frank exchange of views then you may as well have a cup of coffee and go home,? said Ryder. ?None of us will give away any of our competitive secrets, but there are a number of areas where some collective effort will be beneficial."
The next meeting will discuss the strategy for joint testing, allowing two or more banks to simulate a Year 2000 trade to identify problems.
?Testing is crucial,? says Ryder. ?In the US market, the Wall Street players have identified this and tested interfaces that exist between the banks by sending dummy trades in a Year 2000 environment. We may be able to do this even if it?s only two banks which test part of their applications at the same time. We should be able to realise some economies of scale with co-funded testing.?
Relationships with suppliers are another common ground for discussion. ?Many of us use the same external packages so we could get together to liaise with our suppliers over ensuring Year 2000 compliance,? said Ryder.
Clive Williams, vice chairman of City 2000, said: ?Where there is a common supplier we can act as a pressure group. We can ask them to come to us and explain where they are. For example, a representative from BT will be coming to a future meeting.?
Ryder claimed there were positive signs even at this early stage. ?It is early days yet as we have only had one meeting, but we have had a positive exchange of views and put some issues to bed. For example we have decided that keeping a central register of systems that are compliant can?t be achieved.?
?Basically we all want to ensure client integrity and business continuity,? stressed Williams.
The next meeting will be held on 28 January. For further information contact Clive Williams on +44 (0)1883 341144.
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