In order to fill several executive positions vacated in the past few months, SS&C Technologies has raided DST International's (DSTi) European sales force. Two former DSTi sales executives-Alex Knight and Nick Moore-- have joined Jim Heasman, SS&C's new head of European sales who bolted from DSTi in March. Three other DSTi executives are expected to follow suit. This comes at a time when SS&C has been experiencing its own problems retaining staff (BSTW, 9/20). Knight, who was on vacation and could not be reached for comment, begins work at the end of October. Moore, who began work last week, was out of the office and did not return calls.
A spokeswoman for DSTi in Europe confirms that three sales people have departed, but would not name them. She also maintains that there was never a mass walk-out of the DST sales force, despite the fact that industry insiders say three other executives are expected to leave for SS&C, bringing the total to six. The spokeswoman says she has no knowledge of the three other sales people that are said to be leaving the firm.
The "walk out" is said to be a reflection of the problems that have plagued DSTi, according to an executive familiar with the situation, since its merger last year with DST Belvedere, the Boston-based sister company that sells competing portfolio systems. The merger has been described as "chaotic" by the executive, partly due to the tension between the two products, Belvedere's Global Portfolio System (GPS) and DST International's HiPortfolio/2.
Heasman cites pitfalls in development of the GPS and problems selling the outdated HiPortfolio technology as reasons for leaving the DSTi sales department. "GPS was supposed to be the new technology, but the development foundered," says Heasman. " It's quite a mammoth undertaking and they got into partnerships with five or six companies and ended up developing some things very well but some things not at all. I think the development project got out of hand." He adds that he had four and a half great years there, but felt he had to leave due to concerns about DSTi's ongoing technology products.
Heasman explains that he was also skeptical of future sales of the HiPortfolio system. "While it started being popular back in 1997 and '98, I don't think it will prove at all popular post-2000, and their delivery of a replacement for HiPortfolio hasn't happened," he explains. Heasman began working at SS&C in May, heading up strategic sales and taking over all of international sales shortly thereafter. Tim Rudlin, North American sales manager for DST International insists the departures were not product-related, but were instead based on large raises for the individuals. Rudlin adds that SS&C offered "extremely tempting packages which resulted in a doubling of their salaries and commissions levels and promotions of all of them to directors."
He says he believes that SS&C targeted certain individuals. "They were our new business sales force and quite simply they were very successful," notes Rudlin.
Heasman denies that his decision to leave DSTi was based on money. "The overall opportunity of revenue was not a factor in my decision because I earned an awful lot of money at DST, " he says. "A year or two ago, DST was certainly being shortlisted for most of the projects and winning a lot of them, but then DST was suddenly not appearing on the short lists and SS&C was. So I felt that potential clients were voting with their feet and expressing a preference for a certain style or look and feel for a product and I went with that preference."
DSTi maintains that the enticing offers and sudden departures will not be an ongoing trend in the marketplace. "We seriously question whether those kinds of incentives are sustainable, so it's probably a short term feature, not a general trend," says Rudlin. He adds that DSTi is equally committed to all of the products they sell and attributes the moving around to the sales environment, "it's a more transient department, we have a constant turnover of staff, but if you look at the statistics the staff turnover is not especially high here."
All of this "chaos" at DSTi follows the recent departure of several SS&C executives. After posting a 13% decline in second quarter earnings at the beginning of August, the heads of U.S. and European sales were both forced to resign, taking a number of colleagues out the door with them. Recently four executives have left or are expected to resign from the U.S. office and Financial Models Corporation has lured at least three executives away from SS&C's London office. (BSTW, 9/20)