Thomson Financial is releasing a comprehensive corporate actions module in its next version of Portia, its back office solution for investment managers. Slated for delivery in March â06, version 8.0 of Portia boasts upgraded functionality, including workflow tools, for complex corporate actions processing, says Thomson. The investment accounting system has long had some corporate actions functionality but its proprietor has rolled out new features in response to feedback from users.
Speaking to stpzone.com, Christy Roux Bremner, VP, Investment Operations, Investment Management Group at Thomson Financial, says: "When Portia was designed systems were not built to handle the workflow side of things, whereas now solutions have to reflect the different processes required in a multi-user environment. Portia has always had corporate actions processing capabilities, focused on calculations and posting, but now we are upgrading the functionality to include complex workflow tools."
According to Bremner, Thomson has invested in Portia so that clients do not need to buy a standalone corporate actions solution. "Most of our clients are not using a specialist corporate actions solution today, rather they are using Portia exclusively for corporate actions," she says. "Specialist corporate actions systems are expensive and there is the additional cost of implementation and integration. For most of our clients the value proposition does not really add up."
Rather than buying third party systems, Portia users have lobbied their back office supplier for additional corporate actions coverage, says Bremner. "Corporate actions processing is definitely a significant requirement for our users and we have involved some 20 of our clients in the consultation for version 8.0 by allowing them to participate in requirements definition and product designs."
The new functionality has to be flexible for users to configure as different clients have different requirements. "The corporate actions themselves are pretty much the same around the world, but there are some differences in how corporate actions are processed in different markets," says Bremner. For this reason, it is important for the vendor to have a global perspective, she adds.
Version 8.0 of Portia also offers an Advanced Security and Application Access module, which ensures compliance with Sarbannes-Oxley and ISO security standard access, and provides a faster API into Portia. "The ISO requirements are the broadest and tend to be more systems specific whereas the SOX rules refer to both systems and processes," comments Bremner. "Different markets are tackling these requirements at different speeds but the Asian markets are particularly demanding of SOX coverage at the moment."