From the July 2005 issue of Investment Advisor • Subscribe!

THE GLUCK REPORT, Part II: Has Advent Shuttered AdvisorMart?

Support wanes for Web-based PMS

At a time when Web-based portfolio management software (PMS) seems to be gaining greater acceptance among independent advisors, Advent Software Inc. appears to have stopped development on its Web-based portfolio reporting application for small RIAs, and it is no longer marketing the service.

AdvisorMart, a Web-based PMS application that Advent purchased in 2002 with its $25 million purchase of TechFi, is no longer mentioned in Advent marketing materials, including its Web site (www.adventsoftware.com). According to former Advent employees, one of the two full-time programmers who worked on AdvisorMart from its inception was laid off late last year and the other resigned. Neither programmer was replaced, and Advent has stopped making any enhancements to the program.

AdvisorMart billed itself as "the world's first online portfolio management program" when it debuted in spring 2000. TechFi downloaded advisor client data from custodians and reconciled it for $50 per year, per account. TechFi had just made inroads in selling AdvisorMart as an enterprise-wide application for independent broker/dealers in June 2002 when the company was purchased by Advent. After the purchase, Advent at first said it would continue to sell the Web-based system to broker/dealers and RIAs and renamed the product AdvisorMart Institutional. Within months, however, Advent abruptly changed course and the product dropped from prominence.

According to Michael Benson, who was director of development at TechFi before and after it was bought by Advent, AdvisorMart only had 130 RIAs using it at its peak and late last year only 50 RIAs were left on the system. By then, Benson said, Advent also had weaned off the two or three independent B/Ds using AdvisorMart. NexGen, a new Web-enterprise level system being launched by Advent that is geared to its high-dollar money manager clients, could also be used by B/Ds as a reporting system for reps and replace AdvisorMart, according to Benson.

Last month, Advent stopped supporting the desktop version of TechFi's portfolio management system, Portfolio 2000, leaving about 320 users to find new PMS solutions because Advent will no longer make any improvements to the software or sell it to new licensees. Now advisors using AdvisorMart fear it's only a matter of time before Advent shuts down AdvisorMart and forces them to find another solution or move to a more expensive Advent NexGen platform.

An Advent spokesperson did not reply to e-mails or phone calls seeking comment, but in previous interviews Advent had denied that it was planning to stop supporting AdvisorMart.

Editor-at-Large Andrew Gluck, a veteran personal finance reporter, is president of Advisor Products Inc. (www.advisorproducts.com), which creates client newsletters and Web sites for advisors. Advisor Products may compete or do business with companies mentioned in this column. He can be reached at agluck@advisorproducts.com.

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