For years, the biggest gripe A.G. Edwards reps harbored about their firm concerned the technology platform.
Specifically, reps say, their workstations have been less than robust, providing subpar information and breaking down far too frequently.
But the St. Louis-based regional is beginning to address this issue. In the first of what are expected to be many workstation upgrades, the firm has announced a deal with Chicago-based investment research firm Morningstar to integrate the company's research, data and ratings.
“We'd never had a relationship with Morningstar before, but we needed the upgrade and they had what we were looking for,” says Mike Scafati, senior vice president and manager of managed products for A.G. Edwards.
The main appeal of the deal, according to Scafati, was the ability of Morningstar's data to blend seamlessly with the firm's technology platform, which some reps have described as “rickety.”
The new system will be Web-based and offer a range of analytic options, from basic client profiles to complete portfolio breakdowns. The new data will be customized for each individual rep and easily shared with clients. The firm's motivation: giving reps easier access to research without having to produce it in-house.
The Morningstar upgrades are being staggered, with Scafati estimating a “seven-month rollout.” Eventually the desktops will have information on variable annuities and exchange-traded funds.
Neither Scafati nor representatives at Morningstar would disclose financial terms of the deal, but Scafati says it's a “multiyear deal that is the most expansive package we could get from them.”