Now the real work starts

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With the euro and Y2K safely hurdled, the securities industry is sizing up straight through processing as the next obstacle to creating a more efficient global market. The unification of exchanges and clearing and settlement platforms, which should enable this to happen, remains stymied by political manoeuvring. But market forces, aided by technological advances are set to force change. While the front offices of investment managers have been eagerly seizing the distribution opportunities presented by the internet, their back offices have plenty of catching up to do. Those that rise to the challenge will pull ahead of the pack. Julian Marshall reports