Broker-dealer Sanford Bernstein (New York) is experiencing firsthand the advantages of Web services in middle-office trade support operations, having been migrated to the Web interface of Omgeo’s (Boston, Mass.) settlement instructions solution, ALERT. Omgeo, which has made the ALERT service available via the Web for investment managers and custodians, is now working to bring the online interface to all of its broker-dealer clients, and Sanford Bernstein is one of the first to make the jump.
Sanford Bernstein went live with Omgeo ALERT via the Web last Monday, before which the firm’s seven ALERT users were sharing a single dedicated workstation, explains Thomas Heath, vice president of trade support operations at Sanford Bernstein. “Prior to the Web access, we had a single workstation, and not all our users were located in proximity to that workstation. With the arrival of the Web, now we’re able to have multiuser access. So regardless of where our users are sitting, they can access the service.”
Heath says that having Omgeo ALERT available at every workstation keeps employees at their desks and working productively. The Web interface is also making the gathering of settlement instructions less-cumbersome process, offering Heath’s staff the ability to retrieve, review and enter information in a single place – their desktop.
“Using the [previous] workstation, users would receive the accounts and take printouts to their desks. With the introduction of the Web, we no longer have to print out any of that information.”
Although the pricing structure of the ALERT service has changed, there has been no significant change in the service’s overall cost of ownership. Sanford Bernstein now pays a flat monthly rate for the service, whereas they were previously paying for time logged into the ALERT host on a dial-up connection and for individual retrievals of settlement instruction. Heath says the costs remain unchanged.
Interestingly, despite the benefits being realized by Sanford Bernstein’s middle office, Heath says that Web services will not become a priority in the firm’s search for technology providers. Omgeo, which is proactively migrating all clients to the Web interface of ALERT, is the first provider whose solutions Heath’s staff is using as Web services, and it may be the last. “I can’t say that we would use this as a stepping stone and seek out other [Web] opportunities,” he says.