Chicago Equity Partners LLC has gone into full production with Macgregor's Financial Trading Platform.
For Chicago Equity, changing over to Macgregor's Financial Trading Platform (MFTP) marks a concentrated effort to achieve straight-through processing - an ideal the asset manager felt it could not achieve with its incumbent system, Linedata Services Inc.'s Longview 2000 OMS (order-management system).
Behind the scenes, though, Chicago Equity's decision to replace Linedata's LongView with Macgregor's technology is the latest salvo in a running battle between the two vendors.
As buy-side firms go, Chicago Equity represents an attractive notch on Macgregor's belt. The company manages a sizable collection of portfolios, estimated at $5.6 billion, for 107 clients worldwide, including public funds, Taft-Hartley plans, corporations, foundations and endowments.
Entrenched in the midst of earnings season, officials at Chicago Equity were unavailable for comment. However, a spokeswoman for Macgregor says that integration and maintenance issues were primary drivers during evaluations, at the end of which Chicago Equity officials opted to replace LongView with MFTP, as well as buying the system's Portfolio Manager Workstation, Compliance, and the Macgregor-FIX-Network (MFN) components to support all aspects of its trading processes. The new trading technology supports 10 users in the company's Chicago office.
In a written statement, Sheila Foy, business systems analyst, Chicago Equity, says the company wanted a system that not only offered STP capabilities, but could be implemented seamlessly.
The fact that Macgregor's OMS includes a FIX engine and network with "plug-and-play" connectivity to over 125 brokers and electronic-communication networks helped push Macgregor over the top in evaluations, says the Macgregor spokeswoman. "The installation process was a major consideration for Chicago Equity," she says.
However, what drove Chicago Equity to switch, more than anything, was not IT support or customer service, but single-point connectivity, and the ability to add capacity.
Specifically, the implementation of Macgregor's technology to Chicago Equity's infrastructure has facilitated access to no less than four times as many connections as the company had before.
As for the ousted LongView, Annie Morris, Linedata's senior vice president of client services, says that the company was sorry to see Chicago Equity go.
"This is a very, very competitive business, and we're fighting it out with Macgregor on every deal for the same clients," she says.
For its part, Linedata recently announced that the Private Asset Management Division of Minneapolis-based U.S. Bancorp Asset Management Inc. had implemented LongView 2000.
In terms of head-to-head match-ups, Morris says Macgregor may have lured Chicago Equity from its stable, but it has done plenty of poaching also.
"We're definitely ahead on the scorecard," says Morris. "They've taken two of our clients, including Chicago Equity Partners, but we've signed up at least seven of theirs. And, we're currently in the process of signing up yet another (Macgregor) client for our OMS system."
While she would not identify the firm planning to bolt Macgregor in favor of Linedata, Morris says, "It's a big one, a 200-plus user shop, which will mark our entrance into that segment of the market. They will be the first client on our new version."
In response, a Macgregor spokeswoman says she doubts the validity of Linedata's claims.
"I don't know where they got those numbers, but we don't believe they are accurate," she says. "However, it's our policy not to engage in mud-slinging with the competition, so I can't comment any further."