Brown Brothers Harriman Investment Management is close to the end of its search for a trade order management (TOM) system, reportedly narrowing its selection to Charles River Development and Bloomberg. According to a well placed industry official, Brown Brothers plans to select Charles River citing Bloomberg's wares as too new, untested and, in some cases, yet to be fully developed. Bill Anderson, chief information officer at Brown Brothers, confirms that the firm is speaking to Charles River, involving "them in discussions about interfaces," but he insists that no testing has been conducted and no selection has yet been made. Andrew Hausman, who heads-up Bloomberg's trading systems, did not return phone calls by press time. Officials with Charles River decline comment.
Anderson declines to comment on whether Bloomberg is also being considered, but says the search has been narrowed down to two vendors. "I will confirm that Charles River is one of the finalists, but we haven't decided on a system yet," he says. "We've committed to looking at it ... It doesn't mean that the other vendor is out of the running."
Anderson points out that reviews of both systems under consideration have been favorable, and a decision should be made within the next two weeks. The chosen system will be used for both fixed income and equity.
According to the industry official, Brown Brothers had all but decided to go with Bloomberg as it appeared to be a low-cost solution because the firm already uses Bloomberg terminals for market data. The official says Brown Brothers changed direction after assessing the pros and cons of a service bureau. Bloomberg's setup is similar to a service bureau arrangement, and thus Brown Brothers may not have been comfortable storing its data offsite, the official suggests. Furthermore, the firm moved closer to the Charles River camp after Bloomberg did not meet its expectations during testing. The executive continues to say that Bloomberg had promised enhancements to Brown Brothers, which, in reality, were going to take years to develop.
One of the primary requirements of Brown Brother's search is that the selected vendor has a proven ability to evolve with the rapidly changing marketplace, one that looks as if it will be around in five years. "The bigger issue is: what is the long-term outlook of the company?" Anderson questions. "We are looking for a company that we will be able to forge a partnership with, one that will have the resources long-term."
Brown Brothers is also looking for a system that will integrate well with its new back-office portfolio accounting and management system, DST International's GPS (Global Portfolio System). The firm went live with GPS late last year, replacing a number of older systems such as CheckFree Investment Services' APL and Thomson Financial Software Solutions' Portia.
Anderson hopes to have the system up and running by the end of the year, and with an expected system implementation freeze in December due to Y2k concerns, the TOM would actually have to be installed by November.
Brown Brothers Investment Management holds $30 billion in assets under management.