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SIA SHOW: Raymond James Embraces Mobile-Contact Management

Raymond James is taking advantage of a new handheld contact-management system, called ECM Express, being unveiled today by Comprehensive Software Systems.

Despite the slump in wireless products, Raymond James is taking advantage of a new handheld contact-management system, called ECM Express, being unveiled today by Comprehensive Software Systems.

Tailored for retail- and institutional-securities firms, the new mobile product allows retail brokers and investment bankers to get more functionality from the handheld with an enterprise-contact-management (ECM) system that CSS brought to market in March. Based on Microsoft .NET technology, it relies on LiveSyn mobile-user interface to provide real-time updates to the database.

A lightweight application, ECM Express is compatible with PDAs running the Microsoft PocketPC operating system, as well as a variety of other Web-enabled cell phones and HTML Palm devices. ECM Express is loaded on a server at the office or on the handheld. It integrates with Microsoft Outlook and Office to schedule meetings and send and receive e-mail alerts.

"It's staying connected while they're physically disconnected," says Chris Poelma, president and chief executive officer of CSS, headquartered in Golden, Colo. An investment banker who's on the road 50 percent of the time can get all the relevant data for their deals on the PDA, says Poelma.

Right now, ECM Express is installed in a staging environment at Raymond James' home office. In a month or so, the firm plans to introduce the handheld version to people who are using the desktop applications and are interested in maintaining contact information on a handheld device, says Tom Loney, vice president of software development, IT development administration at Raymond James.

"But we'll probably start out with a small group and get their feedback there."Currently, the firm has 1,400 financial advisors in 450 branches using the desktop-ECM application since April. In addition, 20 investment bankers are using the contact-management software for tracking deals and there are plans to roll it out to the rest of the investment bankers, as well as research analysts and institutional-sales professionals who comprise the 350 to 400 person equity-capital-markets department.

"They are on the road constantly, so having the ability to see the deal information and other contact information from the handheld device would be a great benefit," says Susan Kent, Raymond James' vice president of finance & operations, equity-capital-markets administration.

But according to Loney, who recently ran a technology lab at a Raymond James' national-sales conference, there wasn't a great deal of interest in maintaining a wireless connection to the desktop.

"There was more of an interest in being able to download all of your contacts to the device and take it with you and when you're back at your desktop, re-synchronizing it. That's how we're planning to introduce ECM Express. They prefer to work offline whether it's on a handheld device or a laptop and then (do the) re-synchronizing once they're back in the office," he says.

CSS, a provider of front- and back-office real-time software to the brokerage industry, known as SABIL, was founded in 1993 and funded by a consortium of financial institutions including Morgan Stanley, Raymond James and SouthWest Securities, which are clients of the system. Ivy is Editor-at-Large for Advanced Trading and Wall Street & Technology. Ivy is responsible for writing in-depth feature articles, daily blogs and news articles with a focus on automated trading in the capital markets. As an industry expert, Ivy has reported on a myriad ... View Full Bio

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