Fischer Francis Trees and Watts, a buy-side firm with $40 billion in assets under management, recently began implementing Advent's Geneva as its portfolio-accounting system.
As a global asset manager specializing in fixed income, FFTW had many specific requirements for a portfolio accounting system, says the firm's managing director, Michael Wyne. "Whatever complexity you have in one country when dealing with accounting rules and new products, it's multiplied when you have to deal with many countries around the world," he explains.
Once Wyne learned that Wellington Management Company, another global asset manager, which also invests in some fixed-income, had signed on with Geneva, he says, he knew Advent was focused on developing functionality for Geneva in the global asset-management market.
While Geneva had previously focused on servicing prime brokerages and hedge funds, Chairman of Advent Software, Stephanie DiMarco, asserts that the product would do well in other markets. "The big prize in this marketplace is the global asset manager," she says. "We think that is where there is the biggest need and where there is also this incredible productivity gain as a result of this technology."
FFTW had been exploring Geneva as a solution since the mid-1990s in order to replace two separate proprietary systems that the firm had been using to deal with global bonds and U.S. securities, according to Wyne. "We had more and more cases where a portfolio didn't fit nicely into one system or the other," he explains, adding that maintaining the systems was costly and time consuming. "With Advent, we could put all of our portfolios on one system."
Although the firm sent out an RFP and explored various vendors' portfolio- accounting systems, Wyne says that FFTW was pleased with Advent's combination of a proven track record, as well as an innovative product.
Some aspects that were especially noteworthy, Wyne says, were Advent's ability to store "persistent" data that could be quickly accessible, as well as its real-time error-correction capabilities. By persistent data, he means, that Geneva stores the smallest amount of necessary data in memory, allowing FFTW to access information and recalculate reports immediately. The alternative is storing all data on a hard drive, making correcting errors that were made a month ago difficult to access, correct and recalculate.
While Advent maintains that middleware is most often not necessary with Geneva, Wyne says that FFTW did invest in middleware to integrate the portfolio accounting system with the firm's proprietary front-office order-management system as well as incorporate its need for SWIFT messaging.
Despite the downtrend economy, Wyne emphasizes that Geneva's system is a value proposition for FFTW and will soon be for other global asset managers as well. "This is a good project to do in a tight environment because we're going to be saving a lot of money two years down the line. We can focus on growth without worrying about the need to add staff," he says. "The world is getting complicated and global asset managers need revolutionary systems."