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08:38 AM
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Wireless On the Horizon For Investment Managers

The future of securities technologies looks to be a world without wires and investment managers are getting ready.

The implementation of wireless devices, which could perpetually link investment and fund managers to information regarding their portfolio positions, is only about a year-and-a-half to two years off, according to Director of Business Development for Financial Services with Ericcson Internet Solutions, Jacob Goldman.

The next year or two, says Goldman, must be spent standardizing transaction technologies before traders and managers can have wireless access to valuable trade information that often relates to huge sums of money. A service for which, he says, financial professional will pay big bucks.

Fidelity Investments Vice President of Product Management John Callen says that such technologies for the retail side of his business were developed in-house. That technology, called InstantBroker, allows for, "greater access to market information, portfolio information and the ability to place trades," he says. The development of such a project, he adds, came as a result of a Fidelity study which found that most customer inquiries related to account balances, positions, and a need for quotes. Providing that information to customers continuously, without having to make a phone call, was a service that appeared quite valuable.

Fidelity also understands the importance of such devices to their investment managers who are often on the road meeting with clients. "For the investment manger it's critical to stay in touch, to access real time information and monitor portfolios," says Callen.

Goldman says that packet switching technologies are the crucial factor in providing seamless access to the Internet through wireless devices and, through the Internet, to a wealth of financial information. With such technologies, users have a continuous connection to the Internet, never having to dial up. "It's faster than having to boot up your PC," says Goldman.

Callen says that such access to information allows managers to be proactive with their clients as well. "It's not just about answering questions such as what do I own," he says, "it's about how am I doing and what do I need to do next."

Callen stresses the idea that wireless devices will not replace any of the existing channels of communication between the financial professional and their client or any of their traditional methods of accessing information. What they will do, he says, is provide a complementary channel where information can be obtained, improving reaction time and saving money.

Goldman says that some wireless technologies, widely used in Europe and Asia, will take longer to implement in the United States with its disparate networks and lack of standards. "There must be a common interface protocol for all these devices," he says, "it's up to the financial services world to take advantage of these technologies."

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