to limit their own, and their customers', access to on-line data to fewer than 14 hours daily. For most this arrangement works fine. It gives companies with offices in the continental United States on-line access to data for the entire business day, and gives the service bureaus time to run reports for all their clients each night. However, international banks, especially those with offices in Asia, may want to have many more hours of access time. For this reason, the New York office of Sakura Trust Co. has worked out an arrangement with SEI Corp. that gives Sakura's offices around the world 21-hour-a-day access to its trust accounting system, the mainframe-based Trust 3000 from SEI. The Wayne, Pa., firm is Sakura's service bureau. "If a customer is active in the foreign exchange business, he has to know what his position is in a timely fashion" said Ippei Itoh, vice president, trust administration, at Sakura Trust Co. in New York. "Speed is very important because of global activities." Historically, service bureaus have had to limit the number of hours their clients have access in order to rebalance the systems, re-price securities, and create reports for customers so that when a portfolio manager logs into the system the next morning, the information he or she sees is accurate. "Traditionally, systems create (access) windows, because otherwise you can't reliably stop the system so it balances," said James R. Spencer 3d, managing director and general manager of the asset management services group at Broadway & Seymour, Charlotte, N.C. What SEI has done is to create a three-hour window for rebalancing, Mr. Spencer said. "It is a relatively new notion." Eventually, Mr. Spencer said, the goal is for service bureaus to provide 24-hour access. Sakura's New York office has $6 billion in assets under management. It is the contact point for all institutional trust, custody, and corporate finance activities in the United States for Sakura's Japanese institutional clients. The trust company wanted to automate its manual system of processing settlement transactions. Currently the New York office receives instructions from Tokyo, Hong Kong, and the European branches by fax. The faxes must be entered into the trust accounting system when they arrive in New York, causing a delay of at least half a day. Sometimes the faxes are overlooked or misplaced. But it would not be enough to simply give electronic access to the trust accounting system to the European and Asian offices. With a 14-hour time difference between New York and Tokyo, and 5 to 8 hours difference with branches in Europe, Sakura in New York could not give overseas customers on-line access to their account information. So, with plans to give PC access to clients around the world, Sakura and SEI agreed to leave the system open so customers around the world would have a wider window of access to Sakura's system. The only times Sakura and its customers cannot access the system fall between 6 p.m. and 9 p.m. EST. The agreement will allow the head office to input trades from Tokyo, so it can pull up positions and reports on-line, instead of getting reports based on the previous day's data. By the time the market opens in New York, the current position will be reflected. SEI plans to offer the capability to other international clients, said Cathy Ciarlante, the account executive for Sakura Trust at SEI. Ms. Ciarlante said that Sakura does not pay extra for the additional access time, because SEI continues to process the trust company's work on the same data base. If a company's data had to be moved to a different data base, there might be a nominal charge, she said. PC access also could play a small part in preventing traders from making unauthorized trades - a consuming issue for Japanese banks operating in the United States in the wake of $1.1 billion in losses at Daiwa Bank Ltd. "Most important is how each institution like Daiwa or ourselves creates an interpersonal checking system," said Mr. Itoh. "But in the broader perspective, you enable customers overseas to see their position and instructions, and that lessens the risk of a bank doing internal manipulations. We are giving a pair of eyes to each customer."
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