State Street Global Advisors said Tuesday that it has selected SunGard Asset Management Systems Inc.'s multicurrency trust accounting system to support its global ambitions in trust and investment management.
The unit of Boston-based State Street Corp. plans to use the system in its dealings with wealthy individuals worldwide. Ultimately, it may also use Global Plus to handle institutional accounts.
Observers estimated the purchase price for SunGard's Global Plus at more than $10 million.
"A high-net-worth investor who wants a globally optimized portfolio might require securities to be held in 30 to 40 countries," said Chris A. Hynes, principal and senior vice president of State Street Global Advisors' trust and investments division.
James E. Ashton, general manager of Global Plus, said State Street needed "the ability to trade in any currency ... in order to successfully sell to the extremely wealthy."
State Street has its sights on the enormous individual wealth being created by the bull market. Mr. Ashton said the individual management business is thriving while the corporate trust market is shrinking.
The trend is only likely to continue, said Mr. Hynes. "As the cost barriers go down, more people will be involved in global investing."
The fast-growing trust and investments division recently established its first international presence with a London sales office. The division is among the top five U.S. investment management organizations, at $458 billion of assets.
State Street is not alone in turning to an outside company for high- powered accounting systems.
"The world is changing and it is harder for bank trust departments to keep up," said John Truschel, senior analyst at Tower Group, Newton, Mass. "There is really no advantage to having a proprietary accounting system, even if it's slightly more expensive to use a vendor system."
Trust, once a "stodgy backwater," has become a "dynamic growth area" and banks like State Street are investing in it accordingly, said Mr. Truschel. He noted that State Street in recent years moved its trust and investments division within the more autonomous Global Advisors unit.
Besides multicurrency features, SunGard's system permits customers to analyze portfolios in a variety of ways and uses the latest client/server technology. By switching from its proprietary system to SunGard, State Street was able to leapfrog 30 years of software development effort, Mr. Hynes said.
Clients will be able to view account information through a personal computer software add-on called Inquiry Plus. Malvern, Pa.-based SunGard is in the process of developing a version that can be viewed using the Internet.
Recently the operating division of SunGard Data Systems Inc. signed a contract under which Yasuda Trust and Banking Co. of Tokyo will use SunGard software for managing $184 billion in custody assets.