Customers of Info Financial Consulting Group Inc. will soon be able to check their mutual fund portfolio information and the status of transactions online, as the Toronto-based mutual fund dealer moves to a Web-based software application.
Info Financial is among the first Canadian customers for WealthServ Investments, a hosted, Web-based application that EDS Solcorp, a division of Electronic Data Systems Corp., offers to mutual fund dealers in the U.S. and Canada. It gives the dealers’ clients online access to their portfolios, and potentially can consolidate clients’ other financial information to give them complete pictures of their investments.
WeathServ Investments replaces a proprietary system that Info Financial had been running in-house for about six years, said Gary Yung, the mutual fund dealer’s president.
The old system worked, Yung said, but “you know that the technology has changed a lot in the last couple of years, so we decided that we should take a look at what’s outside in the market.” In choosing the EDS offering, Info Financial picked the latest entrant. According to Alex Sweeny, vice-president of strategic business development at EDS Solcorp in Toronto, WealthServ Investments is the newest offering of its type in the North American market, having been introduced about 18 months ago.
The application is aimed specifically at independent mutual fund dealers, Sweeny said, though it is constructed to support other investment instruments such as bonds.
WeathServ Investments is built on a service-oriented architecture, Sweeny said. That means it can take advantage of Web services offered by third parties. For example, he said, major banks make their customers’ financial data available – with customer permission, of course – through Web services. WealthServ Investments can use those services to show customers their complete investment portfolios in one place.
EDS takes the feeds from the banks and integrates them with its own customers’ mutual fund data, Sweeny said. The mutual fund dealers needn’t ever handle the third-party data.
While Yung thinks the ability to offer his customers that kind of consolidated information is an interesting benefit of the application, he said Info Financial won’t take advantage of it right away. The first step – which he expects will be completed by the end of this year – will be to launch the mutual fund platform.
Sweeny said no EDS Solcorp customer is currently merging customers’ bank-account information with its own mutual fund data, but one customer is integrating insurance and term deposit information form third parties.
Yung said the Web-based interface will give Info Financial’s clients quicker confirmation of transactions and let them review their portfolios and understand their investments more easily. One advantage of the system over what Info Financial had before, he said, is its ability to integrate a client’s holdings with more than one mutual-fund provider and provide information about the entire portfolio. For instance, a client or advisor will be able to see at a glance what percentage of a client’s over-all portfolio is in foreign investments or in a particular industry sector. Previously this would have required manually consolidating data from the client’s separate portfolios with each mutual-fund provider.
Sweeny added that WealthServ Investments incorporates the ability to issue a warning when a client’s portfolio deviates from the client’s stated investment strategy – when exposure to a certain industry goes above a stated limit, for instance.
The fact that the application was hosted was also an attraction for Info Financial. “Our specialty is in investment, not in running or hosting software or developing the software,” Yung said.
Info Financial has between 7,000 and 9,000 clients and offers about 400 mutual funds. The company was founded in 1992.