Salomon Smith Barney completed the rollout of its new NextGen broker workstations in late September, completing a process that began in 1997. And feedback from brokers seems to be positive.
"It's terrific," says Senior Vice President Ken South at the firm's Costa Mesa, Calif., office. The new workstations are menu-driven and user-friendly, and "provide access to information a lot quicker, at your fingertips," South says. But there is a learning curve involved, he warns. "You have to spend some time and figure out how to use it before you can get the benefits. "
An SSB broker in Colorado gives the system a thumbs up as well. He likes that he can see trades happening. "It used to be every time you had a trade made you didn't like, it was tough to go argue it. Now I can see the bid and ask, and if I don't see my order, I can call and ask why it isn't showing."
NextGen is now installed in 430 branches and available to SSB's 10,400 reps, according to the firm. The new system has contact management software, portfolio management reports and various other productivity aids--including the ability to produce customized reports. Another of the workstation's offerings is an automatic notification feature. "For example, when the firm's asset allocation changes, the new system prompts the financial consultant to review key areas of a client's portfolio," says Mel Taub, director of information technology and operations at the firm.
SSB ran pilot tests on the workstations from March through June 1997 and began delivering them to branches in June of that year. The company would not comment on the system's cost.
Videoconferencing programs were added to the workstations recently, and corporate intranet access is coming soon, according to Bruce Heiser, an SSB first vice president in Yakima, Wash. He, too, likes the new technology. "At this point, I'm trying to justify why I still have a PC on my desk," Heiser says.