ACT Financial Systems has adapted its trading software, popular in Europe, to better serve North American financial institutions.

The Citydesk information distribution and management system allows traders to customize the way data appear on their computer monitors.

ACT has headquarters in Birmingham, England and offices throughout the world. Its products are installed at over 400 companies in 15 countries.

According to Rick Milde, ACT's U.S. sales manager, Citydesk was designed with the needs of European traders in mind. Most of ACT's clients are in the United Kingdom and Western Europe, where the focus is on trading fixed-income instruments.

A Focus on Equities

Mr. Milde said that because trading volume in the United States was heavily weighted toward equities, ACT upgraded its system accordingly.

"Equity traders are used to looking at information and handling it in different ways than a fixed-income trader might." he said. "So we've adapted to the system to better meet the equity trader's need."

He said, for example, that equity traders often like to see simultaneous streams of real-time data on the screen, so ACT built in that particular capability.

"We also found out that equity traders wanted what we call a "drag and drop" function. This involves highlighting the data from one application and bringing into another application," he said.

ACT has also announced that a version of Citydesk is now available on the new Windows NT computer operating system from Microsoft Corp.

Multitasking Capability

Though previous versions of Citydesk used Microsoft's original Windows environment, ACT officials wanted to take advantage of Windows NT's ability to control numerous software applications at the same time a process called "multitasking."

"One criticism of Windows is that you couldn't perform multitasking functions," Mr. Milde said. "For instance, you weren't able to do multiple calculations simultaneously at one workstation. The new Windows NT changes all of that".

Mr. Milde also said that by supporting Windows and Windows NT on the same network, Citydesk offers a migration path to new technology while protecting a bank's investment in existing systems.

Ms. Sullivan is a freelance writer based in New York.

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