webMethods unwraps financial services arm

Integration vendor wenMethods Inc. is expanding its commitment to banks and securities companies with its announcement Wednesday of a new financial services unit.

This dedicated business arm -- webMethods' third unit to focus on a specific industry -- will leverage the company's integration technology to address the unique requirements of retail and wholesale banking companies and securities firms, such as straight-through processing, according to company officials.

"We're seeing a tremendous amount of interest and traction among financial services customers," said Darren Oberst, vice president and general manager of the new unit based at company headquarters in Fairfax, Va. "We need a team of people who live, eat, and breathe the financial services industry. We have formed a cross-disciplinary team [and] we have everything from developers all the way through to professional services people, business development, and product management people."

Prior to joining webMethods, Oberst was a managing director of Robertson Stephens' global software investment banking practice.

The financial services industry faces unique integration challenges, such as integrating customer-facing initiatives with back-end systems and CRM (customer relationship management) applications to create a 360-degree customer view and enabling new product and service offerings by accessing core banking systems that reside in mainframes, Oberst said. In addition, these companies need to connect disparate internal and external systems to streamline transaction processing to reduce costs and achieve straight-through processing and transaction settlement one day after a trade, he added.

"To date, efforts have tended to focus on a single line of business or a single trading desk," Oberst said. "It tends not to span different lines of business. One of the big problems ... is companies do not operate these processes in isolation. The only way this is going to work is if you can create those integration links between everyone who is party to the transactions."

The company, which already boasts 65 customers in financial services, will be announcing solutions dedicated to the sector in the next several months, company officials said.

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