Mellon Bank Corp. plans to unveil a computer program this month that will let its custodial clients check their investments' performance in real time.

Dubbed Investment Monitor, the risk-management program is a companion to Mellon's Executive Workbench, which gives the bank's custodial clients on- line access to their domestic and international holdings. The new product takes that service a step further by alerting clients when money managers stray from their investment guidelines.

Mellon Trust, which has $1.1 trillion of assets under custody and administration in 503 master trust accounts, plans to sell Investment Monitor to its clients for about $25,000 per year.

With the help of a client steering committee, the bank decided it needed to make risk measurements available to stay ahead of its competition. Most custodians are equally capable of executing the core business of settling trades and accounting, Mellon officials said.

"Those are the basics you need, but the difference in the future is what kind of capability can you add to that," said Paul S. Maregni, senior vice president of Mellon's Boston Safe Deposit and Trust Co.

Indeed, the product is just the latest example of how custodians are seeking to do more for their clients than just hold their securities safely. As repositories of securities, master trust custodians are natural sources of information on performance and volatility.

Boston-based State Street Bank and Trust, for example, last year rolled out Folio Expert, which is similar to Investment Monitor.

"Only the largest custodians can afford to make the investment," said Ronald E. Logue, a State Street executive vice president. "That's probably the reason why a number of custodians are getting out of the business."

"Before, many master trust custodians solved problems of the back office after the fact," he added. "Now, they're trying to solve the problem in the front office first."

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