Research distributed by a brokerages legion of analysts has usually been a static affair. Produce the research, throw it out to the clients and hope that some tidbit of information entices those clients to invest through one of the firms many brokers. With tens of thousands of pages of research produced every month, brokerages have long sought a way to disseminate those reports in a more efficacious manner, one that will target specific pieces of information to the proper audience which will be prompted to buy or sell securities based on that information.
Salomon Smith Barney (SSB) has been on the hunt for such a solution to feed its Web site, ACCESS. In recent months, the firm has turned to ReachCast Corp. which provides a database application, ReachSite, that parses these lengthy reports into Information Components (IC) so they can be broken up and reassembled in any number of ways.
For one, a retail investor doesnt have to deal with downloading a two-thousand page PDF file over a 56k or slower modem, a process that the average person has little time to wait for. With ReachCast technology, an investor can search for various pieces of these research reportsaccording to industry, sector or companyand then create a virtual document with these pieces. The client can then drill down further or back into one of the ICs underlying reports.
The benefit to SSBs squadron of financial consultants (FCs) is immense. Just like the clients, they can compile some of these ICs into newsletters which can be routed to clients in a more targeted fashion. The FC can then track what ICs, and source documents, the client views, allowing them to further direct the appropriate information to the client. All in all, a static process becomes a very interactive one.
John Cook, V.P. of interactive marketing at SSB, claims that the firm has not yet decided on a vendor or a product, but he lauds ReachCasts software which the firm has been testing for about six months. SSB has been looking for a product that doesnt disrupt the research-creation processfrom analyst to compliance department to one of its existing distribution channelsand ReachCast seems to fit the bill. ReachSite, integrated into an Oracle 8I database, can be fed from one of the existing research databases, no matter what application was used to create the original report, and then with the XML tags that SSB has placed on each of those reports further cut them into usable components.
Whatever system SSB selects, the firm is expecting to go live with this type of functionality in the fourth quarter of this year. Cook says that the firm will first avail its FCs with the virtual newsletter functionality, and then roll out the client control sometime next year.