Common Domain Model (CDM)

A Common Domain Model (CDM) aims to unify a series of actions, life cycle events and product definitions though the development of a single language or code. It has particular relevance in respect of post trade and life cycle events and may also be seen as the application of best practice within a codified framework. ISLA has been working with our members and other industry stakeholders, including other relevant industry associations to better understand how a CDM might best be applied to our markets and consider the broader ramifications of such developing technologies.

Aligned to this work, ISLA has also been working to develop digital versions of our market standard master agreements. The development of an on-line digital environment will among other things, allow firms to produce, deliver, negotiate and execute documents, and capture process and store data from such documents. This will, over time, be an integral component of any future digitalised regulatory reporting regime. ISLA has been working on a cross industry basis to better understand how digital formats of our master agreements will benefit our members and the industry more broadly.

The CDM can be found on FINOS here. Any latest working group minutes and relevant working group meetings on the CDM can be found on our ISLA Working Groups & Minutes page.


CDM & Stakeholders


The CDM is a data model that provides a standard format for financial products and transactions in the capital markets industry. It is intended to improve data quality, increase efficiency, and reduce costs by creating a common language that enables automated trade processing and reduces the need for costly customisations.

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Business/Product Heads

The CDM is a data model that provides a standard format for financial products and transactions in the capital markets industry. The common language that the CDM provides for financial products and transactions enables the seamless exchange of data between different systems, reducing errors and improving efficiency.

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The CDM is a data model that provides a standard format for financial products and transactions in the capital markets industry. One of the key strengths of the CDM lies in its integration capabilities, being flexible enough to be embedded within new or existing applications, or leveraged as a service layer for external communications and data exchange.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What is a CDM?

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A domain model is the combination of data representation and functional representation of processes which can act on that data. Every firm will have their own domain model today, though it may not be referred to as that; actually, most firms will have multiple domain models governing the life cycle of any single trade.

A CDM is an agreed upon, standardised domain model i.e. a standard digital representation of data and function. Importantly, the CDM is agreed upon based on real-world business outcomes, and is focused on standardising processing, not just the underlying data.

A full-CDM will integrate all aspects of a transaction including: product representation; event representation and outcome, from regular events such as billing and margining, to less frequent complex corporate actions; legal documentation impacting a transaction, such as a GMSLA or a collateral agreement; process sequencing and outcome; reference data and translation into or from other data models such as FpML.

What does a CDM enable?

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In the short term, a CDM allows for unambiguous and consistent messaging, storage and processing of data. This simplifies many operational processes and reduces the need for reconciliations between systems or parties using the CDM.

In the longer term, having already encoded functionality, the CDM can enable the easier construction of smart contracts, faster connection to and support of a distributed ledger, and ultimately the ability for firms to innovate and compete on products, not on infrastructure or data storage.

What are the benefits of a CDM?

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Through the CDM members should see a substantial reduction, if not a total eradication, of:

  • Reconciliation breaks internally & externally
  • Valuation differences
  • Collateral disputes
  • Reporting mismatches
  • Operational inefficiency
  • Operational risk

The extent to which these benefits at any given point in time are realised is dependent on how fully the CDM has been integrated at that time. For example, to reduce collateral disputes with a counterparty, both parties must be using the CDM, or to reduce internal inter-system breaks, those systems must be using the CDM.

What are the benefits of standardising both data and business functions in a CDM?

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A CDM provides an agreed upon data dictionary, giving every party who uses it a common lexicon of business terminology. Systems using a CDM can have a high level of confidence in the quality and consistency of the data, and do away with costly transformation and extraction functions.

Creating standard business logic encapsulated in functions can help to disambiguate life cycle event processing.



Taking trade settlement as an example, a standard function can be created to model the transfer of securities, taking the unsettled transaction and the details of the transfer as input, and returning the settled transaction as output.

How can the CDM be adopted?

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The key to adopting the CDM is to understand that it can be introduced into your infrastructure incrementally. Existing systems and processes can be iteratively transferred across to use the CDM, allowing a low risk low cost implementation strategy to be designed.

This gives an organisation the benefit of isolating the processes that are the most problematic and addressing them specifically, without the need to rip out or restructure entire systems or platforms in one go.

The CDM itself is available in a range of different code bases, including Java, C# and Python, allowing it to be adopted into any mainstream technology stack. CDM functions can then be exposed as APIs, facilitating their use by existing and new applications.

How does the CDM impact securities lending?

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The CDM is a cross industry initiative, supporting derivative, repo and securities lending pre- and post- trade processes. It contains datatypes, functions and legal agreement representations that can be used to model simple and complex financial products.

Through the CDM Working Groups, and in partnership with technology partners, ISLA have been continually improving the coverage that the CDM has for the terms and events typically found in securities lending.

Overall, almost two thirds of the items that need to be provided by the CDM to model securities lending trades and their lifecycle events are available in the model, as per the picture below.


Timeline of Events

  • Aug 2020

    CDM for Securities Lending Pilot Kick-off

  • Dec 2020

    CDM Pilot Showcase

  • Jun 2021

    MVP: Full Loan Representation inc. Non-cash

  • Feb 2022

    Full-time CDM Developer

  • Nov 2022

    Trading Workflow Dev Complete

  • Sep 2023

    Master Agreement Model Contributed

  • Oct 2020

    Completion of Pilot: Cash DVP Execution & Allocation

  • Mar 2021

    MVP for Securities Lending Begins

  • Nov 2021

    ISLA, ISLA & ICMA Memorandum of Understanding

  • Oct 2022

    Evergreen & Extendible Product

  • Feb 2023

    FINOS Migration

Find Out More

Hosted as a FINOS open standard project, the CDM offers a unique opportunity for members to collaborate and drive industry standards forward in a transparent and inclusive manner.


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