RBC Investments spreads the wealth of data

The wealth management arm of Canada’s largest financial institution has begun a refresh of its IT infrastructure that includes a new portfolio management system and the installation of more than 7,000 workstations in Canada and abroad.


Investments said Tuesday it had started the rollout of 3,300 Thomson Workstations — which provide financial market data like stock quotes, rankings and global indices — to its Canadian offices. The other 4,000 terminals are an upgrade of existing installations at RBC Dain Rauscher in the United States, which RBC Investments acquired last year. The project will also affect users at RBC Investments Dominion Securities, discount broker RBC Investments Action Direct, as well as Asia and Caribbean offices.

John Truman, senior vice-president and head of technology for RBC Investments, said the Thomson Workstations will replace five-year-old systems from another provider which he wouldn’t name.

“”We’ve been looking for opportunities to consolidate across the U.S.-Canada border,”” he said. “”What this allows us to do is migrate to one supplier in North America for our market data services.””

The workstations are just one part of an IT overhaul that includes other new hardware, the installation of Windows 2000 on the firm’s desktops, Outlook 2000, and an Oracle-based portfolio management system from Toronto-based x.eye.

“”All of these things are going to be hitting our branches over the next nine months,”” he said. “”We try to stagger or arrange our schedules so we don’t hit the same branches with the same changes all on the same day.””

Christopher Perry, executive vice-president of sales for the banking and brokerage group at Thomson Financial’s New York office, said the benefit for RBC is to leverage its underlying infrastructure investments across many departments.

“”Historically they bought something for the financial advisor, something else for the equity trade and something else for the fixed income analyst or trader,”” he said.

Thomson Financial, a unit of Canada’s Thomson Corp., is fighting for market share in the troubled financial services market with companies like Bloomberg and Reuters, which also sell workstation terminals. Thomson recently won a US$1 billion contract to supply 27,000 systems to Merrill Lynch & Co.

“”The opportunity is for us to be your partners and save you money in a lot of places as we provide you more value for your spend and displace a multitude of competitors,”” Perry said.

Truman said the rollout officially began Monday after the end of a pilot that started around Christmas. As Thomson will be supplying data feeds to RBC data centres via its servers in New York, RBC wanted to test the capacity and stability of its infrastructure.

As the systems are installed, the co

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