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Finance

Westpac readies $3m custodial system

Westpac is about to take the wraps off an AU$3 million online "custody" processing system that will, for the first time, give its clients an online interface for transactional data.Westpac's custody operations exchange and hold securities, shares, bonds and managed funds for overseas and institutional investors.
Written by Steven Deare, Contributor on

Westpac is about to take the wraps off an AU$3 million online "custody" processing system that will, for the first time, give its clients an online interface for transactional data.

Westpac's custody operations exchange and hold securities, shares, bonds and managed funds for overseas and institutional investors. The updated system will improve its ageing custody processing systems in Sydney and Wellington, New Zealand.

Stewart Gott, product manager, SWIFT, Westpac, admitted the previous systems were not ideal: "We didn't have an online offering and we were behind the market ... The Wellington system even sits on five fault lines so it wasn't good from a BCP [business continuity planning] perspective."

The custody processing systems are used to provide Westpac clients with up-to-the-minute transactional data, which is an improvement on Westpac's previous system that only allowed data to be shared via the banking industry's SWIFT network, fax, or in some cases, e-mail, according to Gott.

The new system is based on Intersystem's Ensemble suite, which incorporates an integration server, application server, an object database and development environment.

Gott said the software was acquired for just under AU$1 million following a request for information from the market. Other than Ensemble, the bank only needed to acquire a few extra servers for capacity.

Giving clients online access to Westpac's data was key to the new system. One of the new functions is an enquiry screen that enables clients to see up-to-date, real-time data for their custody transactions.

"The data was there locked up tight for us to view, but not anyone else ... It was almost impossible or expensive ... to get information out of those systems to present to a customer," said Gott.

Customers are not the only beneficiaries because Westpac will save countless man hours using the "automated invoices" feature.

"Having six of my senior level staff go in and spend three to five business days creating invoices in a myriad of a spreadsheet solutions is not the best way to do business.

"We saw the billing time cut down from [between three and five days each] for six manager level staff ... to one hour each," he said.

According to Gott, the managers now simply "release an invoice after verifying that it is correct."

Around 60 staff in Westpac's custodial operations are currently using the system. It will be extended to two Westpac clients this week and by years end, between 80 and 100 of the company's clients are expected to be using the upgraded custodial transaction processing system, added Gott.

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