Schwab recently announced pricing for PortfolioCenter, the next generation of the Centerpiece portfolio management system. As their annual licenses come up for renewal, all current Centerpiece users will be upgraded to the new PortfolioCenter product and become subject to the new fees.

Maintenance on the first seat will jump to $1,150 from $750 per year. Additional seats will increase to $600 from $500 per year each. The Schwab custodial interface is included in the base price, but each additional interface will cost $600 per year, a $100 increase. Finally, the new rights management feature, which is optional, will cost $500 initially plus $500 annual maintenance.

The initial purchase price for the first license will increase to $5,300 from $3,450 for advisors who custody assets at Schwab. Advisors who are not affiliated with Schwab will see prices more than double, to $8,000 initially. Each custodial interface (other than Schwab's) and each additional seat will cost $600. The new rights management module will cost $1,000. Annual maintenance fees will be the same for all users after the initial purchase.

When PortfolioCenter is released, a new customer with two non-Schwab custodial arrangements and two seats who wanted rights management would pay $11,550. If the same advisor did not have a relationship with Schwab, the price would be $14,250.

The enhanced reporting module will be included in the initial purchase price, but maintenance will cost an extra $500 per year, if desired.

According to Schwab, "PortfolioCenter represents a very competitive offer and licensing fees remain well below those of competitors." The company last raised prices on Centerpiece four years ago.

According to Dan Skiles, a vice president at Schwab, advisors will be able to purchase Centerpiece at existing prices until PortfolioCenter goes on sale (the tentative release date is Sept. 21, 2004). Once PortfolioCenter is officially released, Centerpiece sales will cease.

Those who purchase Centerpiece will be eligible for upgrade pricing, but they will not receive the new PortfolioCenter product until their license comes up for renewal. Anyone purchasing before the deadline would save a minimum of $2,250 and possibly much more, depending upon configuration.