Bank of Boston Corp. has revamped its trading floor operation in an effort to tie together disparate systems and provide customers with faster and more complete information.

The wholesale banking giant spent $25 million to install a client-server system in its treasury department, which encompasses the bank's derivatives, foreign exchange, and investments groups. This is one of the most expensive and comprehensive trading floor redesigns of its kind, and represents a larger, far-reaching plan to convert much of the bank to unified client-server environment.

The new Unix-style operation will replace a diverse and fractured assortment of computing systems -- including personal computers and midrange servers -- that currently run Bank of Boston's treasury area.

Aside from creating a common architecture, the new trading floor system is expected to shift emphasis from traditional back office duties to a more customer-oriented focus, said Stephen Scullen, the director of treasury systems for the Boston-based bank. It will electronically link the traders directly with more up-to-date market data and a broader spectrem of customer information, due to the more integrated and user-friendly nature of the system.

Previously, traders would manually fill out a ticket, which was later entered into the banks' computers. Now, traders key the information into the system themselves, producing more of a "real-time response" and providing them with better analytics to manage the account, Mr. Scullen said.

Overall, this allows the bank to get a more well-rounded view of its customers and provide better service, Mr. Scullen said.

"We support many multinational customers in different areas," he added. By linking the systems together "we can get a total view of the account and more efficiently process these transactions."

This is one of Bank of Boston's first efforts to meet the two-year-old companywide initiative to move the technology from a scattered variety of systems to one common computing architecture.

Although he would not disclose how much the bank intends to spend on this project, Mr. Scullen said that executives planned to complete the transition within five years. This overhaul would transfer almost every area of the bank -- with the exception of very large, repetitive functions such as general ledger and batch processing -- to client-server technology. The bank is next looking to update its retail delivery systems and its imaging systems.

Many other large banks with a serious presence in the wholesale market have modernized and otherwise modified their trading systems recently. Bankers Trust New York Corp., Chase Manhattan Corp., and City National Corp. have all replaced their operations in just the past few months.

National Westminster Bancorp, which revamped its trading system two years ago, credited its new technology with having helped the bank gain a 35% annual increase in trading volume since its installation.

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