The RIXML.org standards committee, a consortium of brokerage firms that's committed to creating a standard computer language for presenting investment and financial research, last week released a draft version of Research Information Exchange Markup Language (RIXML) 1.0 for public comment.
The need for a standard approach to investment reports is critical on Wall Street because brokerages produce some 2,000 notes and reports daily, said sell-side co-chairman Christopher Betz, vice president for the institutional equity division at New York-based Morgan Stanley Dean Witter.
"One new piece of content comes out of Wall Street every six seconds," Betz said. "If you're a portfolio manager or analyst trying to make investment decisions, you have piles of content you have to go through."
That's a big problem, not only for buy-side firms but also for sell-side firms, which generate the bulk of these reports, said Ariana Moore, an analyst at Celent Communications.
The new voluntary, open standard is designed to let the authors of these reports tag the content with four major types of information, Betz said. This includes source information such as publisher, analyst and research team; content information that describes whether the content is a Web address, an HTML file or an Adobe Acrobat file; legal material such as disclosures, disclaimers, trademarks and copyrights; and context information that describes what the report is about — a country, an industry or a specific sector such as semiconductors.
The current standard doesn't allow for much tagging of the content itself, Betz said, but that will be possible in later versions.
Another future priority is to open up the standard to other types of asset classes, according to buy-side co-chairwoman Ellen Callahan, director of equity market data at Fidelity Investments. These classes include credit research, debt instruments, commodities, foreign exchange and derivatives reports, she said.
Callahan said the RIXML standards committee plans to begin working on these new features with Version 2.0 after the initial release is introduced early next month.
At present, there are already some global capabilities built into the standard, according to buy-side co-chairman Chuck Pickelhaupt, director of internal Web portal development at Fidelity.
For instance, "you can describe the content in any language you choose, and the underlying document can be in multiple languages," he said.
In later versions, the standard may be extended to handle most currencies and other global issues, Callahan added.
The 30-day comment period for RIXML 1.0 ends April 25.