Des Moines, Iowa-based Invista Capital Management, a subsidiary of Principal Capital Management, is installing Thomson Financial Software Solution's Portia as its portfolio accounting system, and is planning to integrate it with Thomson's trade order management system, OpenTrader, which the firm has used since 1995.
Rhett Fritz, chief technology officer at Invista, says he is already looking to Thomson for currency and increased fixed-income trading functionality, and live price feeds in the future.
"We've already asked for the addition of a currency trading blotter," notes Fritz. "Our currency trading volume has increased rapidly over the last three years and we need something as soon as possible." Other functionality, such as an Oasys interface for foreign stocks, which sends confirmation and allocation information to broker/dealers, could keep Invista from straying away from Thomson's products, but Fritz points out that there are other options.
"Depository Trust has presented us with a product," says Fritz. "If DTC handles foreign securities more quickly thanThomson then we'll go the DTC route for sending confirmation and allocation information to brokers." Fritz says that the DTC product will only prove a worthy substitute for Oasys if brokers accept it and utilize the system quickly.
Invista is also looking to expand it's trading in Asian markets with the late August purchase of BT Funds in Australia, where the time zone is more compatible. For the routing orders from Australia to be successful though, Invista will need to interface their database with the BT database. "Right now we have a trader come in at 5 a.m. (central time) and trade until the markets close at 10:30 a.m., but that's all the Asian trading we can do for the day," says Fritz. "BT has a time zone that's close to the Asian market so we want to outsource some of our trading to them."
"We are just in the infancy of investigating this," Fritz emphasizes. "We don't want to be on a manual process in the Australian trading and have 'straight-through' everywhere else. It really takes away from what we've gained."
When looking for a new portfolio management system, Invista, which manages over $34 billion in assets, chose to go with the integration of the Thomson front and back office because it offered a single database for information and account access. "Portia was the only system that has a trading front-end and a portfolio accounting system with one database, the others had two databases and an interface in between them," explains Fritz. "With one database the traders can put through a trade and it's immediately reflected in the accounting system."
Other aspects that Fritz says were important in the decision were the familiarity with OpenTrader, the Sybase client/server database, the open structure and the pre-trade restrictions module. All of these were best achieved through the combination of OpenTrader and Portia explains Fritz, adding that the other finalist in the selection process was Financial Models Corporation.
"The other systems had two databases with an interface in between them," he says. "So to achieve real straight-through processing and since we already knew OpenTrader quite well, we opted for the single database with Portia." Fritz expects to go live with the integrated OpenTrader/Portia system early next year while right now the systems are running parallel.