Abar has focused attention on creating a reconciliation system that is intelligent. "Most systems check share balances against custodial balances, but that can mask errors," he says. "Printing and collating your performance reports is only a small part of what a PMS system must do, and you need above all to ensure your reports are accurate." Beyond the normal reconciliation against a custodial system, Abar says FinFolio has embedded eight other checks on data.

For instance, Abar says that if a dividend reinvestment comes into the system as a purchase, it would not be picked up as an error in many systems because checking the balance against the custodial system would not reveal the mistake in accounting. Abar says the checks embedded in FinFolio will pick up these problems.

FinFolio reports come in six pre-designed formats. One design has a very modern look, while others are more corporate. Your firm can choose from any of the six designs and customize it to your colors. By the time the software is launched in January, Abar says he expects to have 50 different types of reports that can be used in the pre-designed templates. You can set a different time period for tables and charts and pick different charts and tables to appear in your reports, and you can also change copy in text boxes accompanying tables and charts in the reports. You can also run a mail merge to combine a cover letter with the pre-formatted reports.

FinFolio comes with a simple trading tool. It can be used to run trades against model portfolios of securities. It does not now rebalance portfolios based on allocations to asset classes, but can rebalance against a model portfolio based on securities selections.

With a half dozen firms now running the system in a beta test, Abar says FinFolio initially will provide interfaces with DST, Fidelity, Pershing, TD Ameritrade and Schwab, but he expects to add an interface a month beginning in January.

Orion Advisor Services. Founded ten years ago, Orion manages and reports on $28 billion of assets on its platform and it serves 185 firms and institutions. The company started as an outgrowth of CLS Investments, a separate account manager with about $2.9 billion in assets and 40,000 accounts. When CLS could not find a vendor to handle portfolio management and reporting the way it wanted, its owners created Orion. Eric Clarke, the son of CLS Investments founder W. Patrick Clarke, is the president of Orion, which has 95 employees.

The average advisory firm on the Orion platform manages $250 million in assets, and Orion's target client is a separate account manager or an RIA with multiple locations and numerous reps. Like BDR, Orion has seen huge growth in its business recently. Clarke says over the past 12 months, the number of client accounts administered has shot from 250,000 to 350,000. The great majority of these accounts are established firms and not part of the steady flow of approximately 200 new RIAs reportedly being established monthly predominantly by defections of brokers from regional brokerages and wirehouses.

About a year ago, Orion smartly built business intelligence and metrics into its system. The Orion Advisor Scorecard is a benchmark for your business relative to other advisors serviced by Orion. Orion takes a representative sample of its clients and uses their data to show you where your firm ranks in key categories of AUM, growth and retention, and performance. For instance, a firm using Orion for reporting receives a Scorecard showing its change in Net New Accounts and how that compares to the average advisory firm using Orion. You can also see your firm's portfolio performance relative to the average Orion firm.

Orion's report writer makes it easy to customize reports and is very slick. The report writer contains 28 graphical modules and you drag and drop the graphics onto your report page to customize your reports. For example, if you want to create a portfolio valuation report for your clients, you can choose from many graphical modules that might be best to put on the top of the page.
Maybe you want a portfolio composition graphic showing pie charts of the asset classes in the portfolio and another pie chart showing the asset styles. Or you might choose a "mountain" chart showing net investments versus appreciation. You can store the reports you want for each client and use that report set over and over each quarter.

With the Orion trading module, you can assign clients to a model portfolio and rebalance their accounts against that model. A pending trade-order list is generated and you can confirm that list against the trades that come back from your custodian. Advisors do not trade fixed income on this system and it is now being upgraded to enable options trading and tax efficiency capabilities.
In December, Orion will begin supporting the FIX protocol for trade execution. That will enable trading based on real-time prices for equities and ETFs. "That's a huge improvement," says Eric Clarke, Orion's president.