A conventional, but customizable, approach to portfolio construction.

In last month's column I discussed Skill Weighted Portfolio, which combines client education, marketing material, portfolio construction tools and other useful features on a Web-based platform to produce a streamlined yet effective investment process. Initially, Skill Weighted Portfolio's core/satellite approach to portfolio construction is what set the program apart in my mind, but the more I though about it the more I became convinced that the work flow features, or the "process," were also very important.

While core/satellite portfolio construction methodologies have their adherents among our colleagues, a majority of readers still use a more traditional approach to portfolio construction. Coincidentally, within days of being introduced to Skill Weighted Portfolio, I was invited to review a Web-based platform that adheres to a traditional investment methodology from Perspective Partners LLC (www.perspectivepartners.com).

On the macro level these two programs seem to share a common philosophy.

Perspective Partners, like Skill Weighted Portfolio, combines a sales/client education process with a portfolio construction/portfolio management process in a Web-based product. The platform includes a workflow overlay that helps the advisor educate a prospect and point out possible weaknesses with the prospect's current situation, which in turn provides the prospect with a reason to become a client.

On a micro level, however, Perspective Partners differs significantly from Skill Weighted Portfolio. For one thing, Perspective Partners takes a more conventional approach to portfolio construction. For another, the Perspective Partners platform is more customizable, which can make it appear to be somewhat more complex.

According to David Snyder, CEO of Perspective Partners, his firm is affiliated with Manning and Napier Advisors Inc. That advisory firm, headquartered in Rochester, N.Y., manages in excess of $8 billion, mostly in separate accounts, for clients in 45 states.

Snyder says that Manning and Napier's "core" reps, those that service the firm's individual high-net-worth clients, have been successfully using a customized version of this Perspective Partners software for some time. "The average rep brings in $50 million in new assets each year," says Snyder. "Close rates are high, and we attribute much of the success to our technology and our process."

Before I walk you through the program, it is worth noting that, to this point, Perspective Partners has been offered only on an enterprise basis. They are looking to enter the independent RIA market in a rather unconventional manner.

In my experience, firms generally offer a "standardized" version of their software for RIAs, while offering "customized" versions for larger, enterprise installations. In other words, software companies tend to "build to spec" for large firms, but in the RIA space they try to figure out what RIAs want, then use the "if we build it they will come" approach.

Perspective Partners is not yet offering a "standardized" RIA version, although it may in the future. Snyder says that his platform is so flexible that it can and will be customized to the needs of smaller groups at a reasonable cost. This means that a small group of like-minded firms, or possibly even one larger firm with, say, 25- 50 advisors, might be able to secure a customized version of the software for a small initial "customization fee" plus a monthly subscription fee, provided that they commit to using the software for a period of time.