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All the big indexes have well known fairly standard ticker like names, e.g. SPX for the S&P 500.

However there are huge numbers of lesser known indexes (and a huge number of variants on each).

Are there actual or de-facto standards for identifying indexes, e.g. like CUSIP or ISIN values or ticker/exchange pairs for equities.

E.g. if I talk about the Credit Suisse AllHedge index I can find all these variants:

  • DJ CS ALL HEDGE
  • DJ CS ALL HEDGE CONVRT ARBITRG
  • DJ CS ALL HEDGE DEDCT SH BIAS
  • DJ CS ALL HEDGE EMER MKTS
  • DJ CS ALL HEDGE EQ MKT NUETRAL
  • DJ CS ALL HEDGE EVENT DRIVEN
  • DJ CS ALL HEDGE FIXED INC ARB
  • DJ CS ALL HEDGE GLOBAL MACRO
  • DJ CS ALL HEDGE L/S EQUITY
  • DJ CS ALL HEDGE MANAGED FUTURS
  • DJ CS ALL HEDGE MULTI-STRATEGY

Plus, in addition to USD, there are GBP, EUR, CHF and JPY variants of each.

Is there a standard identifier scheme to allow me to be absolutely clear in the above example which variant I'm interested in?

Ideally one that's agreed across index providers.

Or are we doomed to use names that are subject to personal wording choices, e.g. one person may write "Credit Suisse", another "CS", or "AllHedge" instead of "All Hedge" etc?

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    $\begingroup$ There is no scheme - it's a complete riot. $\endgroup$ – Norgate Data Sep 17 '15 at 10:01
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No there is no "One True Symbology". Infact its even worse as it used to be teh case that some symbologies were proprietary, and we eneded up with Rics, Cusips, Isins, bloomberg tickers, etc.

Bloomberg has at least released their open symbology for everyone to use:

http://bsym.bloomberg.com/sym/

Though you could probably say that the move is a bit self serving:).

What ends up happening is that you often resort to using several symbologies,

  • 1 from from the counterparty you trade with.
  • 1 for your back end accounting software
  • 1 for your internal tools
  • 1 for historical data you get from your data provider(Exchange or data aggregator)

As someone who is a plumber in this industry, I think symbology is one of the worst parts of this industry.

TL/DR Your going to need to be flexible in how you name things as everyone else will want to use a different name for the same instruments.

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  • $\begingroup$ I'm used to dealing with RICs, CUSIPs, ISINs, tickers etc. But indexes seem even worse - as far as I can see there are no half-way comprehensive IDs being issued for them by any naming authorities. In Europe some of the country naming authorities do seem to have issued ISINs for some small subset of indexes but CUSIP doesn't seem to be doing anything similar in North America. I did look at BSYM but for obvious reasons no one outside Bloomberg seems to be using their IDs even if it is "open". $\endgroup$ – George Hawkins Sep 17 '15 at 13:11
  • $\begingroup$ FWIW, I've seen BSYM (BBGID) in use by several data providers and brokers/exchanges. This page lists a few: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bloomberg_Global_Identifier $\endgroup$ – amsh Sep 17 '15 at 14:59

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