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Prudential Rolls Out New Equity and Bond Floors

Newark, N.J.-based Prudential Investments has gone live with two new dealing floors: one for equity trading and one for fixed-income trading. The new floors have been equipped with a handful of Prudential's trading technology standards, including Windows NT-based PCs from IBM, turrets from IPC Information Systems' and market data from Bloomberg Financial Markets. In addition, the firm has for the first time installed Compaq Computers-supplied flat-panel-display (FPD) monitors in support of its full complement of traders.

Joe Rappa, vice president of trading room technology at Prudential Investments, says that those technology deployments were propelled by the firm's trading room consolidation project. Previously, he says, the firm's equity and bond dealers were spread across three trading facilities: two in Newark and one in Short Hills, N.J. Currently, he says, Prudential has roughly 70 traders spread across its two floors, and has room for 120.

One of the biggest differences between the old facilities and the new trading floors is that all of those traders now make use of 18-inch flat panel monitors from Compaq. Prudential has installed a trio of FPDs as a supplement to its standard IBM PC on each of its traders' desktops.

In their old trading facilities, Rappa says, traders had anywhere from two to four cathode ray tube (CRT) monitors from multiple vendors on their desktops. That configuration, he says, ate up a lot of desktop space. In contrast, the ergonomic FPDs featured on the new floors are expected to yield both space and costs savings for Prudential.

Rappa declines to specify the other FPD suppliers Prudential evaluated, but says that Compaq's offering emerged victorious, in part, because of its size, price performance and multi-sync capabilities.

Another factor contributing to Prudential's FPD roll out was the firm's decision to use Open Bloomberg. Prudential previously used standalone Bloomberg terminals for market data-terminals which required the firm to deploy Bloomberg hardware and a separate Bloomberg monitor on each trader's desktop. But via a Bloomberg-supplied application programming interface, Open Bloomberg enables users to integrate the vendor's data and analytics into their incumbent desktop workstations.

Essentially, the API has enabled Prudential to run Bloomberg's software on its IBM PC-instead of a standalone workstation. Moreover, it allows traders to further save space by giving them the ability to port Bloomberg data to their flat panels for display.

Besides Bloomberg, IBM and Compaq IPC-via its programmable trading telephones-has also made a big splash on Prudential's new floors. To date, Prudential has installed roughly 100 of IPC's MX digital turrets.

Later this year, Rappa says, the firm may also deploy IPC's turrets in support of a separate group of capital management personnel.

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