Buy-Side Technology Awards 2015: Best Buy-Side EMS—Portware

Richard Hill, Robert Watts (Portware), and Victor Anderson

For the third time in four years, Portware, recently acquired by FactSet, walks away with the best buy-side execution-management system (EMS) category. Buy-side trading desks are under increasing pressure to maintain execution quality while transaction volumes boom. At the same time, increased regulatory demands for best execution, audit and transparency in electronic trading are causing firms to reevaluate how they conduct their trading operations.

To help asset managers address these changes, Portware, through its Portware Enterprise platform, has worked to support “intelligent trade automation” through the use of an open-technology architecture in order to deliver “quantifiable performance gains,” says John Adam, global head of product management. 

Portware has looked to deliver product enhancements that enable more intelligent trade automation and better access to information at the point-of-trade for decision making. Notable examples of this include the AlphaVision Pre-Trade and Wave Optimizer features within Portware Enterprise, both of which learn and adapt to portfolio managers’ and traders’ preferences as they route and execute orders in the market. 

“We continue to be strong advocates of delivering Portware Enterprise as an open platform that tightly integrates with best-of-breed offerings, such as Markit’s TCA service and most recently, OTAS,” Adam says. Around the EMS, Portware has built commission and visualization tools to support complex workflows and help asset managers optimize alpha. Looking ahead, Portware will look to build out its multi-asset capabilities for 2016.  

“The build-up of a critical mass of electronic liquidity, particularly in the fixed-income space, is very interesting to us and top-of-mind for our customers. It’s an exciting time to support multi-asset trading as the pace of change continues to accelerate,” Adam explains. The company has experienced 40 percent year-over-year growth, with a large push coming in foreign exchange. It has also grown its footprint in the Americas, EMEA and Asia-Pacific, including significant growth in Singapore, Hong Kong, Japan and Taiwan, which goes some way to explaining the FactSet acquisition: In mid-September, Connecticut-based FactSet Research Systems, which provides financial data and software to the capital markets, announced that it would acquire Portware in a deal valued at $265 million. Much like fellow Buy-Side Technology Award winner SunGard (see page 70), acquired by Fidelity National, Portware will have to prove to the market that its offerings won’t be affected by the new ownership. However, the buy side shouldn’t worry too much, as FactSet is hugely experienced and well respected and the union should only add to what’s already in Portware’s substantial toolbox.

Portware has looked to deliver product enhancements that enable more intelligent trade automation and better access to information at the point-of-trade for decision making.
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