Bear Stearns Selects Ajax To Power Trading Services Portal

The "Bear View" is an attempt to put into the hands of its largest trading customers an investment workstation that consolidates many trading and asset management functions.
The Wall Street financial services firm Bear Stearns has launched an Ajax-based Web portal, Bear View, which supplies investment tools and services to its largest brokers, dealers and investment management customers.

By logging into the portal, investment managers, equity traders and currency brokers can access a host of services in one place through a single interactive interface. The site streamlines money transfer processes and gives investment managers the choice of 70 currencies. It can also supply real time market data, quick access to contact and client lists and information on real-time holdings, trading positions and account balances.

"We are trying to integrate all these things into a Web-based environment" and, through Ajax, let thousands of investment managers work in that environment, said Tim Foley, managing director of Broker Dealer & Investment Advisor Product Services at the firm. The Bear View portal is an attempt to put into the hands of its largest trading customers an investment workstation that consolidates many trading and asset management functions. Brokers and traders can use the workstation to replace several monitors and systems that previously occupied their desks, Foley said in an interview.

The portal was built with Ajax, sometimes referred to as the language of Web 2.0, which keeps the user's desktop tied to powerful Internet servers, databases and back office systems but offers interactions more typical of a powerful, stand alone desktop.

Ajax is the combination of JavaScript, XML, Dynamic HTML and asynchronous communications operating in the browser window. It implements quick, background data exchanges with a server rather than ponderous, page-by-page downloads. In mid-2006, the Bear Stearns development team decided to use General Interface, an Ajax tool from Tibco, to construct the Bear View portal. In addition to a graphical development environment, General Interface includes pre-built libraries of components that speed construction of user interfaces and a framework for snapping in network and database connections. Foley said use of the Tibco tool gave Bear View's portal services "a more Windows-like usability. It captures the best of both worlds" or mimics the best results from information-rich Internet servers and Windows desktops.

Sanjay Chojar, senior managing director of information technology, said Bear Stearns could target the Explorer browser window with its portal applications because so many of its customers relied on Windows. Adding platforms, such as the different browsers on Windows or the Apple Macintosh's Safari browser would complicate Bear Stearns task, since Ajax functions differently in various browser Windows.

The Ajax approach helped Bear Stearns with another monumental task of its new portal. It knew one size would not fit all as it drafted a user interface for the portal, but an Ajax-based user interface can be customized with many different information resources and priority functions.

Since the portal's launch May 7, Bear Stearns' 350 traders, brokers and registered investment advisor have used the user interface's point-and-click and drag-and-drop functionality to pull in the resources they want on their desktop.

"We wanted a high level of customization in the user interface. That's how broker-dealers practice their business," he said.

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