Royal Alliance producers are positive about the firm's new Web-based workstation, dubbed Vision 2020.
Royal demonstrated the new workstations for brokers in regional meetings last fall. Now, any of the firm's 3,800 reps who are equipped with a computer, a proprietary software program supplied by Royal Alliance and a Web browser can access the Vision 2020 network.
The firm did not return calls, but on its corporate Web site, Royal says Vision 2020 allows producers to open accounts, process trades, review commissions, find approved products and download client records. Also available are a daily sales blotter and product cross-indexes, the firm says.
Brokers like the new technology. "Traditionally, first you write the ticket, then the blotter and then you produce the documents," says Gary Battenberg, a managing executive with Royal Alliance in Kingwood, Texas. "Vision 2020 accomplishes all that in the click of a button." Battenberg says he has been testing Vision 2020 for several months and planned to introduce the system to his 25 brokers.
"It's a wonderful system that will make a big difference for us," says Chris Sorce, managing principal of the Sorce Financial Group in Erie, Pa. "We have a full-time person here who does nothing but file things. Vision 2020 should eliminate a good portion of that paperwork."
The firm is offering training on the new system, and Sorce says he was required to supply proof that brokers using the workstations had received the training before he could implement the program companywide.
"Frankly, it's such an easy system to use that we really didn't need to send anyone to New York" for training, Sorce says. "The manual is well-written and the program is user-friendly." The software also offers several security features, including an automatic log-off after 20 minutes of inactivity, he says.
Stephan Cassaday, president of Cassaday & Co. in McLean, Va., says Vision 2020 was originally PC-based but later revamped to use the Web as its backbone. Some wrinkles need to be ironed out before his office converts, he says.
"Their vision for this system is excellent, but they're not quite there yet," Cassaday says. The main problem is that technology is evolving faster than Royal can update the program, so the company ends up playing technology "leapfrog," he says. "Royal Alliance is constantly soliciting feedback, but it's difficult to find a common solution for 4,000 or 5,000 reps who are all doing business a different way."