Fidelity and Integrated Decision Systems (IDS) expect to begin offering a comprehensive, highly sophisticated institutional portfolio management, reporting and order generation system platform for advisors before the end of this year, with full rollout scheduled for the first quarter of 2005.

Integrated Decision Systems ( is new to the RIA marketplace, but it has been servicing broker-dealer firms and prime brokers for 22 years. Its platform currently services more than $4 trillion in assets under management. IDS is headquartered in New York; their technology and support center is located in Los Angeles.

The Fidelity/IDS multi-custody offering will be built on an application service provider (ASP) model, allowing advisors to access fully reconciled client data via the Internet. IDS will host the application and the data. The portfolio management/reporting module and the trading module will share a common database. The system is driven by a fully relational database, so each piece of information can be queried and reported upon.

The plan is to fully integrate the IDS system with the Fidelity custodial system. When this occurs, single data entry will become a reality-orders generated within the IDS system will flow seamlessly into the Fidelity platform, and fee deductions will also be automated. The service will download and reconcile accounts held at third parties (they expect all major custodial interfaces to be ready at launch), but full integration with other custodians does not appear to be in the cards right now.

With Fidelity, once you integrate there won't even be a download. With other custodians, they will do the download and reconciliation. Ultimately, systems like this could provide much of the functionality that advisors are looking for in aggregation software.

I recently had an opportunity to preview the IDS platform, and I came away from the experience thoroughly impressed. Basic client information will be obtained through the custodial feeds, but there is ample room on the account profile page to add additional details. For example, you can specify whether the account is to be tax-managed. If so, the program is capable of automating that process (more on this later). There are fields for systematic withdrawals (and frequency), income vs. principal accounting, unsupervised assets, reporting preferences, billing schemes, related parties, compliance issues, etc.

For those who work with foreign or multinational clients, the system's multicurrency capabilities will be appealing. Fields are available for both the "current currency" and the "client's investment currency," so it is possible to manage accounts in one or more currencies and report to the client in another.

The program offers substantial control at the individual account level. For example, you can set up an account for cash or accrual accounting. Tax-lot accounting can be turned on or off by checking a box. Individual tax lots held in an account can be accessed at any time by double clicking on the holding.

Accounts can be grouped in almost any imaginable way. An advisor might create a group of all "socially responsible" accounts, for example. Groups could be used to household family accounts, but a more convenient method is available: a separate field available specifically for that function. Consolidated reports can be run for both households and groups.

The IDS system offers the advisor a great deal of flexibility when defining individual securities. Default information such as asset class, industry group, sector, and subsector is supplied automatically, but the advisor can override and modify the default classifications at the advisor or client level.

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