A.G. Edwards says all of its 6,800 retail brokers will be equipped with the firm's new ClientOne workstation by the end of October. And despite some complaints about not being able to install unauthorized software programs on the new computers, brokers are happy to get rid of the old system, which dates back to 1994.
"The pain [from outdated technology] in the branches has become quite acute at this point," says Teresa Huxford, director of branch applications at A.G. Edwards in St. Louis.
As of June, one quarter of the firm's 685 branches had received ClientOne workstations. The rollout began in April.
Reps are required to complete an online tutorial. They must also attend a Sunday training session in branches prior to deployment the following Monday.
Despite the improvements, some brokers are grumbling about at least one disadvantage--they can't install their own software, a practice that was tolerated under the old system.
Another possible disadvantage is that A.G. Edwards is now responsible for help desk support, which used to be handled by ILX Systems. "We're hiring and training [support] people as fast as we can," Huxford says.
Officials won't say how much ClientOne cost. However, a filing with the SEC says the firm spent 49 million dollars on technology during its 2000 fiscal year ended in February. The firm plans to charge each branch something for installation of the workstations.
A.G. Edwards' new ClientOne workstation can run several programs at once, thanks to larger monitors and more memory in the new IBM workstations. Memory size went from 14MB to 256MB, and monitors from 14 inches to 21. For an extra fee, brokers can get an 18-inch flat panel display.
The system retains the same navigational toolbar as the old system, and comes with CD-ROM drives, external speakers, a video card and a television tuner card.
The workstation also provides remote access capability, Microsoft Outlook e-mail, plus access to the Internet and the firm's AGE-Net Intranet. A contact- and portfolio-management program, called BrokerVision, was developed internally using code purchased from Plaid Bros. Software.
Everything operates on the Windows NT 4.0 network operating system.