The Importance of Price Curve Management In A More Regulated Commodity Trading Environment
In an era of significantly tighter regulation and oversight of commodity markets, forward price curves have taken on a whole new level of importance. Internal and external auditors, as well as regulators, want to be certain that the valuations used to build up financial statements are irrefutable and truly represent fair value based on reliable data. Indeed, several of the regulations now in force also call for increased and better documented risk management processes, including mark-to-market and profit and loss calculations.
Increasingly, funding banks and shareholders also desire increased transparency into risk management for assurances and forward price curves are central to that function. No matter how good the risk management systems are, it is the data that they utilize that is key to good risk management, and market pricing is a key ingredient in that data. Furthermore, the forward curve requirements don’t just impact commodity trading and hedging operations, but also the treasury function.
In a previous paper, Commodity Technology Advisory defined forward curves and looked at their uses and the source of the forward curve data in some detail. In essence, forward curves have three major uses.
Ensuring E/CTRM Implementation Success
An energy/commodity trading and risk management (E/CTRM) system implementation project is the structured process of taking a newly acquired E/CTRM software product from delivery of code to full “in production” use, and in the process, meeting the business needs that precipitated its purchase.
Implementing an E/CTRM system shares many of the complexities involved in implementing any other enterprise-scale IT system. It requires a comprehensive plan, solid leadership (both executive and project management), specialized technical and business expertise, and a commitment from the software vendor to provide the necessary support to make their new client successful.
However, E/CTRM solution implementations are further complicated by the fact that the E/CTRM product operates not only as the system of record (that is, the system that records, maintains, and accounts for transactions), but it also provides capabilities for managing contracts, trades/deals, logistics, position management, risk management, and associated analytics. A comprehensive E/CTRM system is designed to be a singular system that provides energy and commodity trading organizations the depth and breadth of the highly specialized functionality their businesses require. As such, E/CTRM systems are extremely complex and require detailed knowledge of the business combined with a deep understanding of the software capabilities to properly implement. ComTech Advisory’s experience and research suggest that the effort required and the risks involved in implementing and integrating a sophisticated, configurable enterprise-scale E/CTRM solution are of ten poorly understood by the client and may be minimized (though not necessarily intentionally) by the software vendors during the sales process. Underestimating the real costs and project risks can quickly turn what would otherwise be a “bargain” software package into a long-term, costly headache. All things being equal, when it comes to E/CTRM software, the lowest priced solution may not necessarily be the right solution.