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OCC Makes the Case for Integrated Risk Management Across Billions of Trades

Roland Alston, Appian
August 17, 2023

Based in Chicago, Options Clearing Corporation (OCC) is the world's largest equity derivatives clearing organization. It clears roughly 10 billion contracts yearly across 16 options clearinghouses, serving 313 clearing members. This massive undertaking is even more impressive considering the ever-increasing regulatory oversight by institutions like the SEC, the Commodity Trading Futures Corporation (CTFC), and the Federal Reserve.

“We stand in the middle of every trade,” explained Steve Felix, Director of Process Automation for the OCC. “We provide the stability and assurance that the settlement will be good.”

At this year’s Appian World, Felix joined Anum Sundrani, OCC’s Associate Principal, Process Automation, and Guy Mettrick, Appian Industry Vice President for Financial Services, to talk about OCC’s risk management journey, including giving an example of process orchestration in action. Here’s a summary of that conversation.

Centralization through automation.

“We have to be able to show how we do things and that we are compliant with our policies and procedures. So that’s where Appian comes in,” said Felix.

[ Discover how leading banks are bringing simplicity, speed, and better control to the three lines of defense in the whitepaper, The Automation Advantage: Navigating the Complexities of Enterprise Risk Management. ]

The OCC has been an Appian customer since 2015. Its first application launched in just six weeks. The solution trimmed the process of compiling evidence—across spreadsheets, emails, SharePoint repositories, and beyond—from two weeks to just two to three days.

A dozen more applications followed for areas like risk mitigation, then 10 RPA applications for the compliance team. “A lot of what they do is very manual, so they’re very hungry for automation,” Felix said. 

Adoption spread across the OCC, as the organization increased its focus on continuous improvement. “It's word of mouth,” Felix said. “You show them something, it really works, and the adoption just goes from there.”

Bringing apps and data together.

What’s next for OCC in 2023? Centralized auditing, integrated apps, and process orchestration focused on removing manual controls. 

As the OCC built solutions one after another with Appian, it ultimately found itself with a host of disconnected apps. If you maintain data in two applications, users might enter it one way in one and another way in the second, Felix explained. So, centralizing it through integration is really beneficial. 

“We only have to enter data once,” said Felix, “and we maintain it in one place, but other applications are able to use it. I guess we were a little ahead of the curve with data fabric.”

Centralizing critical compliance data.

Compliance attestation is a quarterly process where every single department lead at OCC and their senior management are tasked with verifying the validity and accuracy of their internal control environment. 

“[Appian] allows OCC to stay proactive and vigilant,” Sundrani explained. Her team has been using Appian to centralize compliance data. Now, instead of accessing multiple spreadsheets and systems—which is both inefficient and also increases the risk of error—OCC leaders can complete and approve compliance attestations through a single interface.

“We used Appian as the unifying layer on top of all of these systems,” said Sundrani. “Response prediction further strengthens assurance. The application has built-in rules to flag users about issues like a missing policy link or the need for an action plan,” she said. 

Sundrani cited the application’s guided workflow and user-friendly navigation, purposefully designed to avoid information overload. “It took zero training to get 100 senior leaders to ramp up on this application.” 

“To bring together systems that sit within the three lines of defense for risk management and be able to share the data between those systems is very difficult to do,” Mettrick noted. “I think it's an absolutely great example of integrated risk management across the enterprise.”

Watch the entire OCC video from Appian World 2023 and discover how to unleash the power of integrated risk management and compliance.