Denver Investment Advisors has just completed the development and installation of a new, proprietary data warehouse that ostensibly becomes the center point of a new investment-management intranet.
The money manager has now shifted gears to focus on the development of internal "portals" that access information found in the system for its analysts, portfolio managers, compliance personnel and executives.
"What we needed to do first was build the information backbone, because the firm never had one," explains Ted Laskaris, vice president, director of investment technology. "There never was a data warehouse, and now we have it set up so that information is sourced once and displayed many times. No more will there be 'Oops, I used the wrong total return number. I used the wrong P/E number.' This is a problem that all firms have to deal with, but bread-and-butter technology can eliminate it."
With one central location for all the firm's data-including records, transactions and incoming market data from the likes of Bridge, First Call and FactSet-the key now is to create tools that allow employees to mine that data in a way that best suits their jobs. First off, there will be the creation of a more general "research" portal that will allow the firm's portfolio managers and analysts a quick view of what position the firm is holding on a particular equity and why.
"The research analysts have their records and models, as all good analysts do, and they have their write-ups, but the PM portfolio manager might have to walk down the hall and get the guy in the office or on the phone," Laskaris points out. "With the research portal, the analyst can say, 'Don't bother me until you've read my research online.'"
The portal feeds into what Laskaris describes as an ongoing Word document, with reams of tear sheets on companies, including data on their earnings cap, earnings expectations, revenues and a quick synopsis of the business landscape. Analysts will be given a set template to populate with this information, which is parsed and tagged according to the analyst, date, the company and "as many ways as there are people in the world," Laskaris says.
Laskaris intends this research portal to serve as the basis for future portals that will be more befitting the actual role of the worker using it. For portfolio managers, he envisions a portal that allows them to begin with, naturally, their portfolio and the stocks in it. "If you put on the hat of a portfolio manager, your first view actually is from your portfolio's point of view," he explains. "So, we're going to build this portal that allows them to start with their portfolio and immediately hot link over to the research."
Next on the list is a compliance portal for the compliance department that Laskaris claims will integrate the compliance functionality found in its equity and fixed-income trade-order-management systems, Eze Castle's TC and Bloomberg, respectively. Further down the road, Laskaris says, there will be an executive portal for top-tier executives to get an overall view of all the data passing through the company's intranet, everything from modeling to transactions to performance. He also imagines that all of these portals will come to imbed the public Internet, as well as streaming audio and video.
Although permissioning is important, whereby only those employees get access to the data they're permitted to, Laskaris says that his team can control the security via NT. When the firm begins pushing some of this functionality out to the Web for its clients, he imagines that the system will require an industry-tested permissioning and security solution. "I haven't crossed that bridge yet," he admits. "There are a number of options, but it certainly wouldn't be NT, not unless I want to put up a big sign in front of building that says, 'Come in and hack.'"
Interestingly, Denver Investments' focus has been on building these applications, rather than buying them. "We are building this stuff, because to take something off the shelf and make it work had some hidden costs and limitations of functionality," he adds.