Aztec Technology Partners' Financial Solutions Group announced at the Securities Industry Association Technology and Management Conference in New York a program to integrate existing system components built by independent vendors. Aztec will integrate the products using Java-based protocols in order to deliver straight-through processing.
The vendors involved-Sun Microsystems, Financial Fusion, IXnet and Archipelago- were gathered together by Aztec because each provides an essential link in the straight-through-processing chain. "We were the catalyst that brought them all together," says Mark Watson, vice president of Aztec Technology Partners' Financial Solutions Group. "Our system is about the interconnecting of existing systems."
Watson says Aztec was able to put together the system in three weeks, because the main elements are "off the shelf." For Aztec's part, it developed the interconnections between the products.
In the system, Sun Microsystems provides the display where customers logon and enter their orders. An order then goes through the Financial Fusion section of the process, where the information is converted into a recognizable financial information exchange (FIX) language or protocol. The data next moves to IXnet's extranet where it is catapulted to the outside world, in this case to the electronic communication network, (ECN) Archipelago. At Archipelago, the trade is executed and sent back through the various steps of the process to the customer's screen, where a statement of their new position is displayed to confirm the trade.
Watson says that some agreements among the various vendors in the process have yet to be worked out, but IXnet wants the system to go live next week. He also says that Aztec has no exclusive agreements with component vendors, so a customer could theoretically substitute one vendor in the process for another that provides the same function.
For example, Watson says, a competitor of Financial Fusion, such as Mint Technologies could also provide the required FIX engine. Along the same lines, Watson explains that IXnet's role could be carried out by AT&T or MCI. As the final step, Archipelago could be substituted by any of the other ECNs or any exchange. Watson says it's all up to customers and the systems they want.
For now, Aztec's customers include such names as State Street, Fleet Securities, Fidelity, Putnam and Wellington Financial. Watson says Aztec's competitors include Sapient, PricewaterhouseCoopers and Andersen Consulting. The difference, he contends is, "we not only consult but we can implement the solutions that we recommend in-house."