As the financial services landscape reshapes itself, the largest clearing firms have been working to enhance their offerings to broker/dealers on a number of fronts, not the least of which is technology (see B/D Briefing, August 2009).
“One of the things we’ve been spending a tremendous amount of time on of late is enhancing our broker workstation. It’s something that’s been on our agenda and planned for a number of years and actually was accelerated by the merger of Bear Stearns with JP Morgan,” says Joe Triarsi, who heads up broker/dealer services for JP Morgan, but like most of his team comes from the Bear Stearns custody and clearing unit.
According to Tim Foley, who heads up the project’s product development team, JP Morgan has committed $100 million in investment to complete the project in an 18-to-24-month timeframe. About a quarter of the $100 million being spent is on new infrastructure, including new data centers, a server farm of over 500 virtualized servers, and a new mainframe.
The whole effort is centered on increasing operational efficiency and lowering costs for the brokers who use the platform. The several hundred enhancements cut across trading functionality, portfolio reporting, money transfer, opening accounts, and dashboard functionality. “Our dashboard is an aggregating tool where it pulls together a bird’s eye view of all the operational transactions that have been initiated from the front office as they come to JPMCC (JP Morgan Clearing Corp.) or to the clearing firm so that everybody can have a real-time view and see what’s happening with new accounts, with account transfers, with money movements,” explains Foley.
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While the success of the project will be largely dependent on technology, it started with marketing 101: find out what the customer wants and then give it to him. Over the last couple of years, Foley and his team have worked with clients and internal brokers who use the platform and found out what did and didn’t work.
The enhancements requested by users are possible due to a change in the underlying technology of the platform, which Foley explains was “moving toward a Flex/Flash-based environment.”