This month, we thought you would like to know a little about the technology we use to do what we do.
One of the most important sources of investment information for us comes from Bloomberg. Bloomberg, one of the most respected names in the investment community, provides financial news and information to professional investment managers. It is hard to overstate the extent to which the investment community relies on Bloomberg’s services: Virtually all of the major brokerage and investment firms subscribe to the Bloomberg service, but few smaller firms are willing to spend the money necessary to install and maintain the service. In fact, out of 2,500 independent advisors served by TD Waterhouse (the deep discount broker we use to execute your trades), only 2 use the Bloomberg service; we are one of them.
As you can see from the photo, the Bloomberg service is delivered on four monitor screens displayed by its own computer. Unlike other providers of financial and market information, Bloomberg brings together all the relevant information needed to analyze an investment objectively. We can look at extensive company descriptions and history, income and cash flow statements, balance sheets, insider trading activity, analyst reports, SEC filings, sophisticated quantitative analysis screens, earnings estimates, buying and selling activity by existing holders and institutions, industry reports, up-to-the-minute, company-specific news and much, much more. The design offers literally hundreds of different functions and ways someone can study an investment.
Time and time again we have seen how Bloomberg improves our investment decision-making and how our clients benefit from our having this service. But at a steep $30,000 per year, it is little wonder that most smaller firms don’t have the service.
Our firm also needs complex tools to manage our services to you. We must maintain an incredible amount of information and history on each of our clients and on the work we do for them, including tax information, investment information, and financial/retirement/estate planning information.
While you might want to know how your portfolio is doing on any given day, we need to know all about cash distributions from investment accounts, estimated tax payments, required minimum distributions and IRA elections, maturity and call dates, income yields on portfolios, investment models, taxable gains and losses year-to-date, carryover losses, and many, many other things about your situation.
No software yet exists that adequately consolidates tax, client, investment, and planning information. The reason, of course, is that the market for such software is small – not that many firms provide integrated, coordinated financial services. Accordingly, each firm is left to build its own solution.
Some years ago, we selected Lotus Notes as the software on which to build our client and company information systems. While we still have separate portfolio management, tax and financial planning systems to perform these specialized functions, our customized version of Lotus Notes consolidates information so that we can serve our clients better and run our business more efficiently.
Our customized version of Lotus Notes provides a centralized on-line log of client contact so that anyone in the company can pick up an activity where someone else has left off, track whatever projects or services we are doing or have done for a client, set up a calendar to make sure things happen when they should (like transfers of securities, gifts or monthly distributions of funds), create collaborative databases so that several people in the company can look at an issue concerning an individual client simultaneously, even from outside the office.
Our significant investment in technology enables us to have immediate access to the high quality investment research and client information we require, so that we can provide you with the very best personal financial services.