Quasar, Apricot Financial Systems’ portfolio and unit trust management software, is now available on the IBM 9370. The system, which boasts over 100 users in the UK, making it the market leader according to Apricot, has up till now run on the DEC VAX range and Apricot’s own VX 9000 range. Paul Foll, Apricot Financial Systems’ deputy managing director, said he believed that one of the reasons for the 9370’s disappointing sales was that it had been launched without any software. IBM, which missed out on the City front-office technology explosion prior to Big Bang, would seem to agree and approached Apricot offering free use and support in the conversion of Quasar to run on the 9370 series. Foll was however anxious to point out that Apricot had invested over UKP100,000 itself in the conversion programme. He believes that the 9370 will improve the company’s position in the building society and retail banking markets and forecasts a 20% increase in business in the first year as a direct result. The software runs under the VM operating system, giving the user the option of upgrading the system, and the company is also testing it under Unix at the moment. Apricot Financial Systems was formed six years ago and has always been a subsidiary of Apricot Computers Plc. It has enjoyed substantial growth with turnover rising to UKP12.5m this year against just UKP2.5m three years ago, while the number of employees has increased to 220 from a mere 30 in the same period. Reflecting on the October crash Mr Foll admitted things had been pretty tough for the first three months of this year, though last month had been very good – the winners are now buying again. Citydesk, a financial information workstation designed primarily for Fund Managers and dealing room environments, saw the light of day in the wake of the October crash. Though born in inauspicous circumstances, Citydesk will, Apricot believes, successfully bring it into the front office marketplace – and the company hopes to announce two new sales in the near future. Apricot has also expanded its customer base through that acquisition of Adatco, which specialises in a financial services system developed specifically for the insurance sector. However Quasar remains the company’s mainstay product and Apricot plans to push it it abroad. Overseas sales account for 20% of Quasar’s user sites and the recently signed distribution agreement with Toppan Moore in the Far East (CI No 922) has resulted in the sale of two systems in Hong Kong. Finally you can expect the release of the enhanced Quasar II sometime in the fourth quarter. Written under Oracle, the software will conform with IBM’s Systems Applications Architecture, particularly the SQL specification, and is expected to use a windows environment for all on-line access. With Apricot’s commitment to overseas sales, Quasar II will come in several foreign languages.
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