Thomson Financial Software Solutions, a provider of trading and portfolio management systems, has partnered with PeopleSoft to offer money managers an integrated back-office solution.
The vendors have begun working together to integrate Thomson's portfolio management system, Portia, with PeopleSoft's general ledger and fee billing systems. Further, the companies have begun to discuss the possibility of building out a portfolio manager front end that uses PeopleSoft's CRM solution as the framework and incorporates many of Thomson's products, including its trading system, Open Trader.
Rock Griffin, vice president and general manager of Professional Services, Thomson Financial, explains that the back-end integration work being done by the two software providers will save time and money for current and future Portia users. Typically, if a portfolio management firm wants to interface Portia to a general ledger or a fee billing system, a good deal of customization work is required, which amounts to extra time and money.
"We think it would be excellent to be able to provide links from Portia, and other Thomson Financial products, back into the traditional ERP market so they can have be better decision-making off the back end, as well as better reporting, better billing," Griffin says. "These things would then be very much packaged and available off the shelf, as opposed to doing so many one-off installations."
Griffin points out that the industry's straight-through processing drive and its goal of T+1 settlement has lead to money managers asking for a tighter integration of systems. Further, the ever-increasing costs of hiring and retaining qualified IT professionals begs for more out-of-the-box solutions. "Since we're in a tight labor market, if we can automate some things that have been manual, we can save them money and improve the service they provide their clients," Griffin adds.
Although only preliminary discussions have taken place, both companies believe they will be able to provide a single front-end portal for portfolio managers. It will be based on PeopleSoft's CRM system, Vantive, which will be fed by the data housed in Portia and will incorporate Open Trader's order management and execution functions, market data from ILX, as well as other Thomson products such as First Call. "We have constant clients that are moving into the high net-worth individual market because this is a growing segment of the market around the world," Griffin explains. "So merging a contact management system like Vantive with Portia, which houses all the portfolio management information, becomes a no-brainer."
Griffin emphasizes that this is not an exclusive arrangement with PeopleSoft, rather the first of what he believes will be many partnerships with other CRM, general ledger and fee billing systems providers. "This agreement doesn't preclude us from working with other firms, and it doesn't preclude them from working with other portfolio management system providers," he points out. "We think that both sides investing into this solution suite is going to force a lot of other players in the market to step up and participate, as well."
He expects the integration with the general ledger and fee billing systems to be completed by November, in time for Thomson's user conference. He would not speculate on the release of the portal. Current Portia clients have already begun to ask whether they could be the beta testers of both the front-end and back-end systems, but Griffin declines to name them.