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Robert Sales
Robert Sales
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AMVESCAP Expands Pact with MacGregor

AMVESCAP— has decided to deploy MacGregor’s Merrin Financial Trading Platform in support of more than 300 equity traders and portfolio managers worldwide.

In an expansion of a previous agreement it signed with The MacGregor Group, AMVESCAP—a global investment management firm with $295 billion in assets—has decided to deploy MacGregor’s Merrin Financial Trading Platform (MFTP) in support of more than 300 equity traders and portfolio managers worldwide. MFTP—a trade order management system that runs on Sybase Inc.’s relational database management server on the back end and Microsoft’s Windows NT on the client end—has already been deployed at AMVESCAP offices in New York, Houston and London. Traders and portfolio managers in Dallas and Atlanta will be the next to go live with MFTP, and the system is scheduled to be installed at AMVESCAP’s offices in Frankfurt, Paris, Hong Kong, Singapore, Sydney and Tokyo prior to July 2000.

As part of a four-year global contract it just inked with MacGregor, AMVESCAP has expanded its number of MFTP licenses from roughly 150 to 330, says AMVESCAP chief information officer John Deane. Those licenses, he explains, will be used by portfolio managers and traders at AIM and Invesco. AIM—a U.S. mutual fund firm—and Invesco—an international money management company targeted at both institutional and individual investors—are both units of AMVESCAP.

Deane says that AMVESCAP chose to expand its relationship with MacGregor to "seize a financial opportunity," but declines to provide details on the firms’ monetary arrangement. Just as significant as the price tag of MFTP, he says, is the fact that the order management system can be seamlessly delivered in multiple geographic locations. "We are a very diverse organization with many, many different trading styles and needs—and many different physical geographical locations. ... and MFTP is real-time, works all around the world and connects our various offices," Deane says.

Rather than having a host of individual fiefdoms, he says, AMVESCAP wanted to standardize on a single order management system that could unify its diverse array of portfolio managers and traders. And that business need drove the firm’s decision to go global with MFTP. "There’s a driving business reason, and that is the ability to create product ... anywhere in the world, and deliver it and distribute it anywhere else in the world through our multiple distribution channels," Deane says.

Personnel in different geographic locations who want to tap into MFTP will do so via AMVESCAP’s Houston, Texas-based data center. Rather than having data centers at all its office sites throughout the world, Deane says, AMVESCAP has one consolidated data center—where MFTP resides. "The physical application remains and runs in Houston itself ... and we are using client/server and thin-client technology to deliver the application to remote offices," he explains.

One important function MFTP will provide for AMVESCAP personnel is the ability to route equity orders to a multitude of execution destinations, including electronic communications networks (ECNs) and sell-side brokerage firms like Morgan Stanley Dean Witter and Salomon Smith Barney. Deane declines to specify which ECNs AMVESCAP currently routes orders to through MFTP, but says that any ECN that uses a standard order execution gateway—such as a FIX interface—is "easy" to link to.

Moreover, he says that if AMVESCAP wants to connect to any ECN in the future, it will merely ask MacGregor to build an MFTP interface to that network. "But it’s a little bit touch and go, because there is a new ECN every week," Deane quips.

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