Performance Reporting Software

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Jul 29, 2008 11:06 am

I'm an independent RIA with assets custodied at Fidelity. My firm uses Advent's Axys, which is kind of antiquated, difficult to use software. Are there better products out there, at a reasonable price? I was thinking of Morningstar's Workstation Office.



Any thoughts, research, reports, links, etc., would be greatly appreciated.



-Robert A

Jul 29, 2008 2:13 pm

What exactly are you hoping to improve when you say 'better'?  There is an awful lot of functionality in PMSs, and different ones have different strengths and weaknesses.

Jul 29, 2008 4:23 pm

Well, a few things. The data doesn't always come in correctly via Advent's Dataport system. It also doesn't handle managed and unmanaged assets all that easily. Transactions that the custodian journals from the margin account to the cash account are treated contributions and withdrawals even though they're still within the same brokerage account. The client files use the old, pre-Windows 95 naming convention. We cannot do interim billing correctly. The reports have little, if any graphical aspects to them (unless Excel is used).



But most importantly, its a really dated product and it's difficult to use.

Jul 29, 2008 4:26 pm

I've been looking into some things as well.  Morphius directed me to take a look at Morningstar Principia.

 
I just found this out a couple days ago, but when you get access to The Hartford's website, they have a free version of the Morningstar Advisor Workstation.  FREE.
Jul 29, 2008 4:51 pm

Or - Hartford Canada????? And do do business in Quebec everthing is both English & French.

Jul 29, 2008 5:26 pm

Fellows:



I'm new here. Can we keep this thread on track? I'm an independent RIA, and what The Hartford offers is irrelevant to my original post. Morningstar Principia doesn't offer portfolio performance reporting.



Thank you,

Robert



Jul 30, 2008 10:36 am
RobertA:

Well, a few things. The data doesn't always come in correctly via Advent's Dataport system. It also doesn't handle managed and unmanaged assets all that easily. Transactions that the custodian journals from the margin account to the cash account are treated contributions and withdrawals even though they're still within the same brokerage account. The client files use the old, pre-Windows 95 naming convention. We cannot do interim billing correctly. The reports have little, if any graphical aspects to them (unless Excel is used).



But most importantly, its a really dated product and it's difficult to use.


Robert,
You're quite right about Principia having no PMS capability.  My suggestion about that in another thread was for someone who wasn't needing that functionality.  I've read the Morningstar Workstation had some complaints when it first came out but has apparently resolved many of those, although it aspires to be much more than simply a PMS, and it is precisely in the PMS functionality where some of the original complaints were.  I haven't researched that lately though so it might have improved.

If you are open to outsourcing more of the PMS process a very interesting alternative to look into is Black Diamond Reporting.  Their reporting presentation - including the graphical aspects you mention - are absolutely unmatched anywhere else IMO.  Much more client friendly presentation than Advent.  I'm not sure how they might handle some of your other complaints such as margin to cash movements, but it is one of the newest, most powerful systems available and very easy to use once set up.  Check it out.

Hope that helps.

Jul 30, 2008 3:05 pm

Thanks for your note. I spoke to BlackD, but their minimum fee is $20k, and that's for reporting purposes only. I'm looking at another firm up in Santa Barbara that costs about the same, but is a true outsource solution (trading, rebalancing, compliance, reporting, etc.).

Jul 30, 2008 5:43 pm

I wouldn't call Black Diamond low cost, but I didn't notice you indicating that cost was your primary concern, nor trading, rebalancing, compliance, etc. for that matter.  That was why I asked about your concerns before responding.  If cost is critical I am surprised you are using Advent, who certainly is among the highest cost vendors. 

You should also realize that Black Diamond's cost is NOT simply for reporting as you state - they handle the whole portfolio management system process including daily downloads and reconciliations - something that someone at your firm is currently doing (and being paid to do) if you're using Advent.  Factor in upfront software costs, employee payroll and associated costs and BD is a very good value proposition for many.

Which vendor are you considering?  Other than cost, how do they compare with Black Diamond on the original issues you cited as being concerned about?


Jul 31, 2008 11:59 am

We pay Advent $2,000/year for Axys, which includes the data interface, and it costs me about $3,000 in labor costs to do all the reconciliations and corrections. If we want to upgrade to ABOS, which is their mid-level service where they handle all the reconcilations for us, it'll run about $10,000. This service level seems similar to that Black Diamond is offering for $20,000.



I was only stating that at $20k, I'd want to a more full service solution.    



Morphius:

I wouldn't call Black Diamond low cost, but I didn't notice you indicating that cost was your primary concern, nor trading, rebalancing, compliance, etc. for that matter. That was why I asked about your concerns before responding. If cost is critical I am surprised you are using Advent, who certainly is among the highest cost vendors. You should also realize that Black Diamond's cost is NOT simply for reporting as you state - they handle the whole portfolio management system process including daily downloads and reconciliations - something that someone at your firm is currently doing (and being paid to do) if you're using Advent. Factor in upfront software costs, employee payroll and associated costs and BD is a very good value proposition for many.Which vendor are you considering? Other than cost, how do they compare with Black Diamond on the original issues you cited as being concerned about?

Aug 4, 2008 10:06 pm

Interesting numbers on Advent, Robert.  Perhaps you've found a way to structure things that are significantly cheaper than I've heard of before.  Help me understand:

1. How do your Advent numbers look when you factor in the very significant costs to buy Axys and Moxy?
2. Your labor costs for reconciliations & corrections is the lowest I've ever heard of, as it amounts to about $58 a week.  Can you elaborate on how you manage to get that boring but critical job done so cheaply?

I know when we priced out ABOS less than 5 months ago it was slightly more expensive than Black Diamond, although perhaps your volume is different.  I would still be amazed that Advent - who has a long reputation as the high cost vendor in this space - would price any service at half that of a competitor.

I don't care at all if you avoid Black Diamond, but I'm very curious to find out how you can own and support Advent for so much less than is the norm. 

Aug 6, 2008 5:03 pm

We do a data download only monthly, and we reconcile asset values quarterly. With 40-50 accounts, it doesn't take that long unless there is a problem with the data translation, which happens on occassion.



Fidelity is rolling out a special deal for its advisors to get ABOS at a discounted rate. Although the rate has not been officially announced, it's around $75-$80 per account with an annual $10,000 minimum.



In answer to your question about Advent pricing, they offer Axys for $4,000 for the first year, and $2,000 each year thereafter for advisors with less than $50MM under management.



Now, what is irritating is that data brought in electronically sometimes comes over incorrectly and has to be fixed. If that weren't the case, then quarterly reconciliations wouldn't be necessary.

Aug 8, 2008 10:24 am

I hadn't realized Advent offered such price discounts for smaller RIAs, probably because we don't qualify for those discounts.  I assume you also make few changes to client portfolios if you can afford to only do monthly data downloads from Fidelity, as we download and scrub transaction data daily, and we have quite a few more accounts than you do.

Wish I could be of more help, but it sounds like your business model and ours is too dissimilar.  Good luck with your search.